Discovering our strength, with a helping hand

If you’re taking part in Run For, you might already have met Páuric. He’s one of this year’s champions. Páuric, who’s five years old, has cerebral palsy and vision impairments, but, wow, does he love exercise! Get ready to be kept on your toes!

Today we’ve been chatting with mum, Janine, to get to know Páuric and his Sense story.

Oh yes, Páuric really likes being active. He does swimming, personal training with a karate coach and, my goodness, he loves Joe Wicks. Páuric wakes up asking, “Are we doing our exercises today?” so we put on a Joe Wicks video most mornings.

Páuric has triplegic cerebral palsy – his two legs and his right hand are affected. I’ve thought about how wonderful it would be if he grew up to do personal training for people with different abilities. There’s not that much accessible coaching out there, so that would  be really something.

Janine and Páuric in their beautiful garden.

It was a scary start to life

Páuric was born very early. I didn’t have any hint of his arrival at all, he just decided one day, “I think you’re having too much fun without me.” So that was it.

He had to be resuscitated when he was born. He was doing well, but then he took a double brain haemorrhage that was really quite severe. He was very poorly – he had a wee heart murmur and his lungs were filling with fluid… We told the doctors we wanted to save him, no matter what. But it was very scary. My uncle’s a priest and he came in that night to christen him.

It was traumatic for at least the first ten weeks. There was a lot of coming and going, different procedures, different scans and a whole lot of big words that we didn’t know.

The bleeds on Páuric’s brain and the procedures around them affected his eyes. His left eye didn’t recover from the muscle damage; we’re still establishing what sight he has, it seems like he misses things in his lower and side field of vision.
On top of that, his vision has been left quire blurry from being born early. Retinopathy of prematurity, I think, is the term for it.

Our sensory revolution

We had support from various organisations while Páuric was growing up. Then, I was talking to a friend one day, trying to get advice on how to strengthen his helper hand and his vision. She helped us get a referral to Sense.

It was brilliant. A lady from Sense started coming to the house with a car boot that was always filled with toys that squeaked, beeped, smelt and rattled – it was a sensory explosion! Both Páuric and his older brother, Rónán, loved her.

Rónán hugs his younger brother, Páuric.

The toys that Sense introduced made Páuric want to use his limbs, to understand and really engage his full body and senses. It sort of enlightened us and taught us how to keep him progressing.

She was very good at bringing the boys together while concentrating on Páuric’s needs. Sense has always been good at including Rónán. I never wanted him to feel excluded or undervalued by the attention that Páuric received. At the end of the day, we’re in it together as a family. I think Sense have always understood and supported that.

Support to take on new challenges

Now, you look at him and it’s amazing. Páuric turned five in July, he’ll be off to a mainstream primary school soon. I’m delighted with his development; he’s adapted so well. It’s hard to say whether he’d be ready for this big step without the support we’ve had from organisations like Sense.

Sense is still part of our lives, we do their days out and have visits from our support worker, Joyce. They’ve given us opportunities we thought we’d never have, things we might have shied away from because they’re a wee bit more difficult to do – or impossible to do without a helping hand.

Run for Páuric

Páuric has faced up to every challenge, so it’s amazing to have people like you take on the Run For challenge for him! I know you’ll do a brilliant job.