Raising a child with a disability can put enormous strain on a family. Parents can feel isolated as they struggle to meet the physical, emotional and financial demands that can come with raising a child with high needs.
Megan who has Down syndrome, suffered a terrible start in life. When she was a toddler, her parents divorced and shortly after Megan’s mum met a new man. The two of them drank heavily and Megan’s world spiralled into violence.
Although Megan’s dad, Paul, phoned his daughter regularly, she had very limited verbal skills and couldn’t tell her father about the nightmare she endured.
When Paul returned to visit Megan he instantly knew something was seriously wrong. His daughter was overweight and her body was covered in bruises. He discovered Megan’s mother’s boyfriend had been hitting Megan. He also suspected she had been sexually abused. After a long battle in family court, Paul won custody of his daughter.
Although Paul was relieved that Megan was finally safe, his whole life changed overnight. He worked full time and suddenly he needed to care for his daughter, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Megan had no routine. She couldn’t say more than a few words. She didn’t like to do anything on her own. Paul struggled to even cook her dinner as she required his constant attention.
With nowhere else to turn, Paul contacted Barnardos for help. Five years on, Megan and her dad continue to receive ongoing support from Barnardos. And they are not alone – there are many other children who need our help.
Your support today will help give more children with a disability, access to the additional services and support they need to reach their full potential.
* Please note: Names changed and models used to protect privacy.