Case Studies

“When you care for young person with disabilities the challenges and stress are real”

Section: The ALLIANCEType: Case Study

The ALLIANCE Humans of Scotland, shares and showcases short stories about the everyday lives of the people we engage with.

Hi, I’m Julie, Mum to an amazing young man Ryan, (yes, I’m biased) he’s incredibly loving, funny, smart…he has so much to offer this world. Though not everyone sees this. He’s a sprinter, swimmer, skis with the help of awesome coaches, he’s also now learning the art of Wing Tsjun (Kung Fu)…Ryan’s also on the autistic spectrum and has learning disabilities.

When he was a baby I didn’t understand what they meant by “difficult baby”. He wasn’t difficult,  he didn’t sleep as well as some, but he was loving, funny and so smart from a very young age. If I had a pound indeed for every time Ryan was described as “badly behaved, with “challenging behaviour”.

Ask your child to try something new, especially relating to exercise, sport and movement it’s stressful for them. Ryan had a pretty horrific experience in mainstream school, he hated anything to do with physical activity. This led to him being reluctant to try new things

I tried Ryan at a few soft play centres and multisport, it ended in tears for my boy.  He wasn’t throwing a tantrum, as has been said by many  observing.  Ryan was communicating his frustration the only way he could. People are quick to assume because we can say “I don’t understand”  or “I don’t like this” that all children can communicate in the same way.  Ryan didn’t have the functional language to do this. It took me time to understand this, I did used to think “why is it always my poor boy who is upset and crying while the other children are coping” At times I just wanted to wrap my arms round him forever and shut all the hurt out for him. However,  I knew I had to persevere, help him learn new things, he had the right to learn. I just had to find a way that worked for him to let him experience fun things in life, give him a life outside his bedroom. Eventually I found clubs for Ryan with coaches trained to work with children disabilities. I still had to be a voice for Ryan, help people to understand, learn from him and with him. It took time and patience for Ryan to learn to trust people. He eventually did, it was worth all the effort.

A few years ago, as I was nearing 50 I thought about my life as Ryan’s Mum and carer. When you  care for young person with disabilities the challenges and stress are real and having suffered a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage when Ryan was just aged 5 I decided it was time to take a leaf from Ryan’s book and get healthy. I want to be around as long as possible for Ryan, to enjoy life with him and see him continue to grow as a young man.

I tried circuit classes. Quickly my passion for health and fitness grew. I loved that we could do more together, we were healthier as a family, it also helped with depression that I’d battled for a long time. This led to me studying and gaining my Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer qualifications. I found like Ryan, exercise was my medicine for stress.

I have much to thank Ryan for. He makes me incredibly proud every day in life. Transition has brought many challenges and continues to. It has also brought many opportunities for both myself and Ryan to share our experiences, build resilience and learn constantly. No matter what the challenges we deal with them.  We  always look for the positives first, what worked well and then what could work better.  My role is supporting Ryan, encouraging him to try new things in life, ensuring he is safe doing so, letting him learn as he goes and grows in life.

We use exercise to help with stress and to bring calm to our lives. I’m lucky I get to work with Ryan to do this. Thanks to ILF Transition Fund helping Ryan to fund his passion for Wing Tsjun he’s now inspired me to  try kung Fu and I’m currently taking part in self-defence workshops for women being run by Ryan’s club at  Wing Tsjun Glasgow. I owe a lot to you Ryan.  It’s important that organisations support people to have their voices heard, hopefully this will encourage others to do the same.

Read Ryan’s story on our website 

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