The team at MAB-Mackay is family! Raising a child such as Ainsley, who has special needs, is often difficult, frustrating, beautiful and touching, always full of love. As Ainsley`s grandfather says “it takes a village to raise a child” and we absolutely landed in the most beautiful and caring village we could ever have hoped for as they have consistently cared, loved and provided for Ainsley. They are a part of us, our family, accompanying us on our journey!

We are deeply grateful.

Ainsley is our eldest, and during her first months we knew something was wrong as she was developing slower than her peers. One life changing day – just before her first birthday – the doctors confirmed our fears as they began a series of neurological tests.

Our little girl, we were told, would be lucky if she lived past five years old. And still they didn’t know exactly what was wrong. The tests continued as our fears increased. Ultimately, after three difficult years, they determined Ainsley had a malformed right hemisphere of the brain, which caused her difficulties in many motor activities (fine and gross), as well as hearing, speech, behaviour, and potentially many other areas.

We have been part of the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre family now for over five years. Initially, Ainsley was placed into the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program where she learned how to adjust to her hearing deficiency and how to communicate with her peers. Ainsley has had weekly speech therapy for many years now, and it is wonderful to see her work with the professionals and to observe her progress. For a little girl who at two-years of age could only speak sixwords, she now is a six-year-old who can communicate with her peers, teachers and our family. Verbal communication is a very difficult task for Ainsley. It may take months for Ainsley to program her brain and muscles to produce a sound and incorporate it into her vocabulary. These may seem like very small feats, but each of these amazing accomplishments are a direct result of the continued hard work by Ainsley and her extended family of therapists and educators.

Ainsley is also in the Motor Disabilities Program, where she receives regular occupational therapy including assistance in sensory integration, fine motor activities, writing and more. It was through this program that Ainsley was invited to participate in the 2011 Défi-Sportif – a competition for ‘special needs’ children, where she swam 25 meters and ran a remarkable 60 meters. It was an incredibly emotional experience to see our daughter participate with thousands of children like her in an organized sporting event. As athletic parents, it was something we never thought was possible, until the MAB-Mackay introduced us to this unique event. Ainsley was able to overcome her fears, make new friends and see that there are other children like her. It was an absolutely amazing experience!