Little Julie was in as part of a large family group with her cousins and grandparents etc. I was so taken with her, I asked her Mum, Laura, to bring her back in on her own so I could photograph her.
As Laura explains:
Julie is almost 4 years old, but was diagnosed at 18 months with Inversion Deletion and Duplication of Chromosome 8, a rare genetic disorder.
We are working hard on walking at the moment and teaching basic sign language called Lamh, as Julie is non verbal and has poor co-ordination of motor skills. She attends the Central Remedial Clinic for a range of therapies and we are hopeful that she may eventually learn to walk and develop her ability to communicate.
Julie's strength is her use of eye gaze, facial expression and she is very, very determined. She has an ability to engage people due to her warm bright personality.
She loves the good things in life: food, good company and music!
She adores her older sister and most mornings she wakes with a big grin. We call her our little Buddha.
This year, Julie started in a local Montessori.
We were lucky enough to stumble on an exceptional Montessori owner called Lynsey McCabe, owner of Brightsparks Montessori in Kinsealy.
A local Montessori was important to us, so that Julie can be part of the community. Through the AIMS scheme, Julie received funding for a lovely preschool support worker and for equipment that she needs. The Montessori also received some funding for adaptations and alterations to provide a changing area for Julie, but this needed to be supplemented.
A local charity, called the Laura Brennan Trust, donated the remaining funds needed to complete Julie's changing area. This is a great charity which supports children suffering from serious illnesses within the local community (www.laurabrennan.org).
This means other children with disabilities, in the future, may be able to attend this Montessori and this is very important to us.
Julie is settling in great at Montessori and goes in with a big smile. She is adored by her peers, and they treat her the same as they treat each other but help her, when needed.
Julie's preschool support worker says she is the child people want to sit next to at circle time.
Although, Julie's condition is not what we wanted for her, she is shining through it and rising above it.
She has taught us an awful lot and she really does bring out the best in people.