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Parents love to document their children’s milestones; first tummy time, first steps, first words. But, having concerns about your child’s development can be challenging.

A new awareness campaign is launching to make parents in Sydney’s Northern Region aware that Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) is the NDIS Partner in the Community to help them navigate the first steps if they have any concerns about their child’s development.

We hear you are a local mum of four – tell us what you love about the Willoughby area as a place to raise a family.

The Willoughby area has always been home for me as I was born and raised here. To do a full circle and return to Willoughby to raise my family makes me very happy. A lot of my childhood memories of the area are kept alive through raising my kids in the same area. Bales Park was my favourite growing up. Nostalgia is also evoked when teaching my son how to drive down the main roads such as Mowbray Rd. I love how central the Willoughby area is to services and the transport is great. Most things that we need to buy are found at Chatswood shops. I love that it’s a safe area generally. My neighbours are wonderful too. My husband and I couldn’t be happier living anywhere else to raise our kids.

How did you first hear about the Northern Sydney Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) service and what prompted you to reach out to them?

My daughter was 8 months old when we started getting concerned that she wasn’t bearing any weight at all on her feet and was generally very floppy. Being the fourth child, we sensed something wasn’t right. We started seeing a physiotherapist and a paediatrician and she was diagnosed with gross motor delay stemming from Severe Benign Congenital Hypotonia and Hypermobility. In addition to this she had some oral issues pertaining to chewing and swallowing.

We were told that my daughter’s condition is likely to be permanent and it was a matter of managing her well and intervening when she is very young to have the best outcome for her. I had heard about NDIS through a relative of mine and I wanted to apply….so I reached out to them and they put me in touch with our local ECEI team. It was very easy to get in touch with them by telephone. The ECEI team filled in my daughter’s NDIS application. Another staff member also contacted me afterwards to follow up on the application and keep me updated.

How was your experience with the service and what were some of the outcomes?

The ECEI helped immensely in navigating what seems to me a difficult application process for the NDIS. They took the pressure off me as I was already very time poor with managing a family of 4 kids, especially with my daughter who requires a lot of daily hands on time. My daughter has been approved for the NDIS since then and I cannot imagine that I could have applied for this on my own. The ECEI team did it for me and supported me through it. This will ensure that my daughter can continue to access the correct type and amount of therapy to best help her be the strongest version of herself she can be.

What would you say to other local families who may have concerns about their children’s development?

If you have hesitations about your child’s development, go with your gut feeling and just ring up for a chat or visit cerebralpalsy.org.au/ecei as a starting point. I learnt the value and meaning of early intervention…if there is something that can be worked on with your child to help them, the early years are the most crucial and best years to do it. Every ECEI worker I spoke to or met in person was very warm and welcoming.

The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) service is offered free of charge to parents in the Northern Sydney Region with children aged 0-6. Parents are being encouraged to follow their parental instincts and contact the team if they have any concerns about the child’s development. For further information or to access the service, parents should visit www.cerebralpalsy.org.au/ecei or call 1300 888 378