Coppull Children’s Centre — A Parent’s Perspective As a parent of two young children, one of whom has additional needs, who regularly uses the Children’s Centre, I wanted to make other parents of children with additional needs aware of how Coppull Children’s Centre can help them. I have been attending the Centre regularly since my three year old son, Aidan, who has Down Syndrome, was born. We are members of a support group, ‘Sunbeams’, which can be accessed through the Children’s Centre. Sunbeams has given me an opportunity to meet other families who have children with additional needs and Aidan has taken part in enjoyable activities which have helped his development. It has also given me the opportunity to gain advice and support from other parents and carers in the same situation as myself, especially at times when I have felt isolated and as if other friends and family didn’t understand how I was feeling. Another great service from the Centre has been its outreach service, where I have had one-to-one support from members of staff in my own home. When Aidan was born I was shocked and upset by his diagnosis and it was great to have an outreach worker who could listen in confidence to how I was feeling from a neutral point of view. This support has been available to me throughout the last few years as I have coped with the emotional exhaustion and stress of caring for a child with additional needs. One of the huge benefits of attending the Centre has definitely been the way in which Aidan has been included in all activities and groups. The staff and other families have all been so welcoming and my children and I almost see it as a second home. When Aidan was born, a big fear was that people would treat myself and him differently. At the Children’s Centre this could not have been further from the truth, everybody has been really friendly and welcoming and both of my children have developed a great deal by attending groups at the Centre. The only way in which we have been treated differently is in a very positive way, for example group leaders and other parents use sign language, particularly in singing activities, so that Aidan can understand. Also, if he has found any activities difficult to participate in, staff have adapted activities or offered an alternative. Over the last 18 months Aidan has been attending a special school part-time and I think that attending the centre has given him a great opportunity to still spend the other days mixing with and learning from mainstream children therefore he has had the best of both worlds. In short I really hope that other families who have children with Additional Needs can benefit from using the centre as much as I have.