Nathalie Ward is a parent using Enable Ireland Children's Services in Tallaght. She spoke at the 25th Anniversary for our service is Tallaght. This is the story of her journey with Enable Ireland from when her daughter, Sarah, was born 19 years ago.
"Hello, my name is Nathalie Ward, and my daughter has cerebral palsy.
Have you ever looked at your daughter and seen a perfect child as you were being told she would never walk, never talk, or never play like her sisters would? Have you ever walked into the doors of Enable Ireland wondering "Why am I here?" in a bid to deny the fact that your child would not be "the same" as their siblings and friends? I have.
When Sarah left the Combe, she was sent straight to Enable Ireland. I believed that if I was polite yet distant with the staff, kept my head down, and didn't engage beyond the appointments, then it wouldn't be true. It would not be true that my beautiful baby girl had a disability; that she would live life struggling with limits.
Have you ever looked at your daughter and wondered at the support complete strangers were willing to provide, often going above and beyond their call of duty, to ensure she had the best chance at life? This support was not only provided to Sarah, but to my family and me while still giving us space and time to work through each new stage, that roused new difficulties we had never even anticipated; New limits that Sarah's twin would never have to comprehend, never mind deal with. Yet even then, I struggled to acknowledge the whole concept that 'Sarah's diagnosis was correct. I found myself comparing my family to those around me, wondering why this had happened when I had done everything by the book.
Have you ever looked at your daughter, who has grown up from that perfect little baby into a beautiful young adult, and marvelled at how much her life has been positively transformed by a team of people you once feared? Have you ever looked at the limits of the funding that that same team has worked with since day one, and realised just how fortunate you are to have been a part of their astonishing goal; the goal to support not only the children but the families of those who were thrown an unexpected curveball in life?
Have you ever realised that the diagnosis that you feared and denied for so many years is not the thing that has created the limits for you, but something that has broadened your acceptance and love of differences in each and every individual, whether those differences be caused by a medical condition, an intelligent little mind, or a cheeky personality.
I am Nathalie. My husband, Michael and I are proud parents of Sarah, who has cerebral palsy. And we are living life with no limits, thanks to the support of Enable Ireland Tallaght."