India was born on 5th March 2013 and everything appeared to be okay. She was regularly monitored by the pediatric team at the hospital and even though she could still not lift her head at 6 months old her parents were told, when she was 7 months old, there was nothing wrong with her. At 12 months old she was still unable to sit up unaided and following the standard 12 month developmental check up all babies have India was referred back to a pediatrician and under went a series of tests to get a specific diagnosis. The blood tests she initially had showed that she had a rare blood disorder but didn't confirm her developmental delays. At 18 months old, India had an MRI scan which confirmed that she had cerebral palsy.
India started her first session in June 2014. Her mother Elena said:
"That first morning made me feel extremely emotional as it hit me that everything was not going to be 'normal'. At the beginning I had separated myself from all my friends who had had babies as I found it difficult to cope with the fact that my experience had been different. Right from that first moment I was made to feel so welcome and felt 'enveloped' in care. My feelings then went from being emotional to excited, as I realised that this was a place with people who really cared and I could see that the future was going to be good. Meeting other parents in the same situation made such a difference and everything feels normal and you are not alone and isolated.
"India made amazing progress, doing things that other parents just take for granted. She started to do a 'commando' crawl and walking one-handed. I had to give India 100% attention as this is what she is used to and she loves being the centre of attention. She has grown in confidence and each milestone means so much as it is such an achievement for your child and brings a tear to your eye. At 21 months old her hearing and speaking was so good, and she started to say words from pictures she recognised for every letter of the alphabet. She loves books and asks for her favourites to be read again and again.
"India was unable to sit up and still required a bath seat until she was 18 months old but now loves going underwater and using her legs. After attending Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity, India has grown in confidence. She has a steely determination which shines through most when she struggles with certain physical activities.
"India is now 4 years old and still prone to accidents when she is tired, going through growth spurts or poorly but it certainly doesn't stop her. She's our tough little cookie, who may need us nearby to catch her when she falls, but will not let anything stand in her way. She will be starting mainstream primary school in September. India still loves her swimming lessons very much and has recently gone up a level. We've tried a number of other clubs to help with her coordination and balance from ballet to football but swimming is definitely the firm favourite. We think she may have been a mermaid in a previous life as she spends most of the time underwater! It's so wonderful to watch her progress and get so much pleasure out of her weekly lessons. She absolutely loves soft play and we visit a centre regularly as this too is fantastic for her coordination. She has formed some wonderful friendships both inside playschool and through our social groups. She has settled seinto school life very well. Her confidence continues to grow and she is full of energy, incredibly entertaining and can light up any room she walks into. She surprises us every day and we could not be prouder of our little superstar. We are now even more proud of our little girl as in December 2017 she achieved her Orange belt in Tae Kwon Do! This is a fantastic achievement as 3 and a half years ago we did not even know if she would walk. We could not be more proud parents.
"Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity made such a difference to our lives and everyone is made to feel special."
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