Eighteen years ago Dianne gave birth to her first child. This happy occasion was tinged with sadness and a fear of the unknown. Ryan, her son, was born with a rare disease that affects 1 in 50,000.births. Ryan has undergone surgery 38 times and may face more operations in the future.
For most families, the arrival of children is an absolute joy. For families of children with special needs, that joy is tempered with the huge challenge of juggling the medical, physical and emotional needs of their child and the rest of the family.
“When Ryan was born the doctors gave us the worst case scenario, that he may not make it through the first surgery. We really didn’t have time to let this soak in as Ryan’s first surgery took place within 12 hours of him being born.
We were initially told he would need a few reconstructive surgeries and then live a healthy life.”
Dianne and her husband, Shaun, went on to have two more children, Kieran and Erin. Ryan, however, needed a lot more operations than first thought. Then Dianne’s two younger children were diagnosed with Autism and intellectual disabilities, which added more stress and worry to this young family.
‘When Kieran and Erin were diagnosed, our little family fell to pieces. The diagnostic process was long, very long, and Ryan was in and out of hospital. It was a very difficult time for us.”
Dianne and Shaun joined Kalparrin in 2005. Kalparrin’s Family Support Officers were able to help the family during their many hospital visits, and Kalparrin provided respite opportunities for the family.
“Kalparrin was a lifesaver for me. I attended a Kalparrin mother’s respite weekend many years ago. At the time I was very depressed, I couldn’t talk to anyone about my situation without crying. Raising three children with special needs was exhausting.
It was only after meeting another Kalparrin mum who was also raising 3 children with special needs that I realised I was not alone.”
Dianne is one of more than 1,700 mothers that Kalparrin helps each year at Princess Margaret Hospital and through regular programs and activities. Your donation will allow Kalparrin to continue to provide practical and emotional support to mothers just like Dianne.