Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Reality vs The Dream..

Needless to say, raising triplets with special needs is a bit of a challenge… 

Especially when you don't fit in an average house..

Meet Anwen, Mahalah and Gideon Read, typical 7 year old siblings, as different as chalk and cheese, and as bright as buttons..

Welcome to our home! As you enter, you can't get far into our house without being surrounded by 3 sets of power wheels, accompanied by three talkative 7 year olds; stories and chatter resounding off the walls, sentences overlapping each other, competing for your attention. (Not to mention our exuberant black labrador who will bound deftly between the wheels to welcome you!)  

Anwen loves animals

Gideon, cheeky boy.

Mahalah is very creative

Would you like a cuppa?.. That's our photo album.. Benjamin and I, (then Jemimah Jessop), were married in 2005- Yes, I know, we look young!
And here's the kids as babies, all lined up in a row, born in Nov 2006.
Oh YES, it was a HUGE surprise to learn we were expecting triplets.. Confirmed only 8 weeks before their birth.. But a bigger shock was to come..

(The Reality bit):
Unbeknown to Ben and I, the kids were born with Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. A genetic thing. Very rare. 
Diagnosed at 18mths, first power wheelchairs at 2 years old, life suddenly took us in an unexpected direction. We needed to stop work and became full time carers, adapting our lives around the kids special needs...

Gideon 2yrs
Mahalah 2yrs 


Now, at 7 years old and growing quickly, they have just finished Year One at the local public school, and we look down the barrel of the next five years. (They will be 12 before we know it!)..  For some time Ben and I have felt the strong need of a home that is not just wheelchair friendly- but highly accessible, for THREE rapidly growing children! 

The last day of Year One. 

Everyday in our current house the kids are limited and restricted in what they can do. We'd like to teach them a growing independence, in things like cooking, making lunches, doing dishes, but they cannot use the kitchen or come near it without blocking it up or backing into the fridge/cupboard/our feet.
 We would like for them to have room to maneuver around the house without the worry of damaging walls, squeezing through tight turns or dealing with the daily frustration of bottlenecks that disallow them plus their brother or sister.
We would love to give them more freedom outside, and space to explore, but our small block is a limited space for three fast power chairs, and our house being built off the ground means there are hazardous steps and tight ramps, not to mention the fiddly doors which they struggle to open with their weak hands. All these minor obstacles for the able-bodied, can render them helpless..    

(Here's the dream bit):
We have spent most of 2013 thinking through a liveable housing solution that takes into account the nationally recommend accessibility guidelines AND the needs of THREE wheelchair users... 

So... after looking at many options, Ben and I recently decided we need to buy a larger block on the fringes of Canowindra and build a purpose-built house that meets the kids special needs in the best possible way.

The POSSIBILITIES  for them -in terms of greater independence and freedom- is exciting

The cost is another thing....

You're off now. On your way out, after many minutes attempting to extract yourself from a few (mainly one sided) 7 year old conversations, many 'goodbyes' will be said, and as I try to help you 'escape' down the hallway towards the front door, I will say a heartfelt "Thank you so much for visiting our place, seeing our little world.. Come again!" 

(Stay tuned for the next instalment: 'Making The Dream a Reality')

-Jem. Xo

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