My name is Sarah, I have a disability called Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus. What is Spina Bifida? Spina Bifida is the medical name given to a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to form properly while the baby is developing in the womb. It is one of the most common so called neural tube defects. What is Hydrocephalus? Hydrocephalus, also called Water on the Brain, is a condition in which there is an abnormal buildup of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) in the cavities (ventricles) of the brain. The buildup is often caused by an obstruction which prevents proper fluid drainage. The fluid buildup can raise intracranial pressure inside the skull which compresses surrounding brain tissue, possibly causing progressive enlargement of the head, convulsions, and brain damage. Hydrocephalus can be fatal if left untreated.
I have been a member of the IWA since the age of 15. Throughout this time I have taken on many different tasks & challenges such as an art project & disability awareness training. Also through my disability awareness training I have had the pleasure of actually delivering this training out to various groups & organisations. I would have taken on many other challenges which at this stage are hard to remember because of my old age lol!
Back when I left school I went on to do various courses, day & night, for a number of years such as Fresh Start
(Confidence Building) & IT (ECDL). Through these courses and the work placements, I went on to then work for the Citizen Information Centre for a further 3 years. During my 3 years with the Citizen’s Information Centre, I had decided I wanted to try & pursue my passion for childcare. I came across an article in my local newspaper advertising in my local preschool/afterschool for a childcare assistant through a CE scheme. This decision I had made was quite challenging due to people telling me this was something I couldn’t do because of me being in a wheelchair. I think my decision was made as a way of proving to myself that I could do it. When I first started in my role of a childcare worker I was working in the afterschool for 2 years. Within my first two years of working in the afterschool my daily routine was to setup the rooms for the children, setting up daily activities, going to collect them from school, doing their homework with them & on occasions we would have trips to the local park.
On receiving my 3rd year contract, I had decided that I would like a change that maybe I would like to change over to the preschool. I went to my boss with this decision-asking her would this be possible as the children were younger & would be more hands on i.e. changing of nappies!! My boss had advised me to give it ago, see how I got on…. that was almost two years ago now! Funny things that have been asked of me by the kids “Teacher how did your mammy get your wheelchair out of her tummy”? My reaction was to laugh as I just thought it was the funniest thing I’ve heard. My advice to young people with disabilities wanting to get into this line of work is to just try it, don’t be afraid to give it ago. I am in my 4th year working with the afterschool/ preschool & I just love it. Only you know what you are capable of but the advice of other people will help you too. I have undertaken many courses in QQI level 4/5 to support my work role.