The first time pre-school was mentioned I pushed it to the back of my mind.
I couldn't even contemplate leaving Charlotte with a stranger, amongst able-bodied children, without me being there for support.
But as Charlotte progressed and became more interested in learning and being with other children I realised I would have to let go and let her move into the world around her.
I put off looking around potential pre-schools for as long as I could, but after a push from the child development centre I decide to write down my worries and deal with them one at time!
Finding the right pre school for Charlotte, that she could attend with her twin brother, was my first step.
I visited numerous schools but eventually found the one.
I wanted a good one-to-one that would not only teach Charlotte but would ensure she was always included.
After numerous discussions, with a very patient head teacher, we agreed she would be Charlotte’s one-to-one, and all activities would cater for Charlotte so she could join in.
My next concern was how she was going to interact with other children in a mainstream environment, she would be provided with a supportive chair but this stood her out from the others plus didn't allow her access to all activities or put her on a different level from everyone else.
I wanted Charlotte to be able to sit on the floor, enjoy story time and play with everyone else.
We took the Playpak in with us everyday.
Pre-school loved it and it meant Charlotte could enjoy floor activities with everyone else, because of its design it didn't make her stand out and the other children love playing with the rolls and Velcro making it more of an attraction to her peers.
It also allowed the one-to-one to position her so she could do her physiotherapy without it being obvious to the other children and Charlotte herself.
Next came outdoor activities, playing football, standing at the sandpit.
This is where the Upsee came into play, a few practises with the one-to-one and she felt comfortable enough to use it in the playground,
Last week we took in the Scooot, because we thought it might be a good chance for her to learn to wheel it forward whilst amongst other children.
She managed to manoeuvre it from one side of the classroom to another.
They loved it so much at school they asked if we could bring it in from now on!
Plus the other kids had great fun pushing her in it.
My last worry was mainstream parties.
How would we attend these and join in?
We have now attended quite a few.
We take the Upsee and join in the Hokey Cokey, and enter the dance competitions (we haven't won one yet but I think that may be more to do with mine and my husband’s dancing rather than Charlotte’s).
And we take the GoTo Seat so she can sit at the table and eat with everyone.
We still have many challenges to face, we know that, but for now we have found a way to ensure Charlotte is included in everything her brother is.
Well done Firefly, I'm sure everyone will agree with me: 'it's not what we make…it’s what we make possible' is so true, and you can now add pre-school participation on top of family participation!
Is your child a wheelchair user?