I still remember the day Annabelle sat in her first wheelchair, a powered wheelchair, on 13 March 2019. She was two years and 4 months old.
We turned up to the assessment in which Annabelle was set up in the powered wheelchair and had to show that she had sufficient cognitive ability to move the chair forward, backward, left and right and listen and understand some basic instructions: to go and to stop. It didn’t need to be perfect but she needed to prove she would be able to learn how to operate the powered wheelchair for us to be able to take it home.
Annabelle has always been cautious and reserved around new people and so far that hasn’t changed with age. She would always rather stay with me or her dad then get involved in an unknown situation. It can be frustrating for us sometimes (especially when it ends with tears) but I completely understand why she is that way.
I cannot even begin to imagine what it feels like for her to have the ‘device’ she uses to assist her moving her arms and legs and to support her in sitting just removed leaving her vulnerable. Being taken completely out of her comfort zone and entering a place of fear knowing that if she doesn’t like the unknown situation she cannot move to get herself out of it.
I placed Annabelle in the powered wheelchair. Immediately you could see the fear in her face.
She was sat in an unknown object with two strangers checking the set up and giving her directions BUT her hand was placed on the joystick, light pressure applied and suddenly she was moving. No other person was touching her but she was moving!!!
The fear vanished from her face and instead it lit up. She looked over to us and laughed. This was the first time Annabelle had been able to move away from us and at speed!
A year and a bit later the love for this piece of equipment has just got stronger, we love nothing more than going to large fields and just letting Annabelle go off and explore in her powered wheelchair. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching from a distance and seeing your non-mobile child being able to move around in her chair enjoying the independence it provides.