Hackney mother starts blog to connect with other parents of children with cerebral palsy

Esther and Zariah. Picture: Pravina Rudra

Esther and Zariah. Picture: Pravina Rudra - Credit: Archant

The young mother of a girl with cerebral palsy has started a blog to document her journey and connect with others after experiencing a lack of support.

Esther and Zariah. Picture: Pravina Rudra

Esther and Zariah. Picture: Pravina Rudra - Credit: Archant

Two-and-a-half years ago Esther Marlsey-Burkson, 23, was told her newborn daughter, Zariah, had cerebral palsy.

"She was seven days old when we were called in by the doctor and told she won't be able to see, smile or even know who you are," she told the Gazette. "It was blow after blow."

Earlier this year after a medical review suggested Zariah may never walk independently, Esther went to her laptop and began typing.

"I was up in the middle of the night crying after the appointment," she said. "At three in the morning, I went on my laptop and started writing what I was feeling, pressed share and then went to sleep."

Overnight, she got several messages, including from friends who hadn't known about the diagnosis.

"In a lot of minority communities we don't really talk about this kind of thing," she said. "But we need to address it."

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The blog, Life Without Limitations, has allowed her to tap into a community she would not have otherwise.

"I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been told their child isn't going to walk," Esther added. "Zariah's almost two-and-a-half now and I haven't met one person who has a child with cerebral palsy - even though I know they exist in Hackney."

One post that caught the attention of many is about trying to find care for her daughter, so she can take an admin job in Great Ormond Street's physio department.

"I can't find childcare which caters for special needs and offers after-school hours," she said. "I don't want not to work - it is a one-way road to depression."

In addition to providing an outlet and support for Esther, the blog has helped others in a similar situation.

"I can't tell you how long I spent trying to find someone, joining local Facebook groups. If I couldn't find anything, it means maybe someone else is also searching and hasn't found anything."

Just two weeks after the blog launched, Esther has had 500 people visit it. Various children's charities have been responding - and one even wants Esther to write a piece for their next issue.

Esther is aiming high. Her dream would be if "it could be the foundation for something bigger - a support group or charitable group for parents but inclusive for children with special needs - whether it exists online or physically."

But as she suggests, she has already made a difference,

She added: "Even if one person reaches out saying they're in the same situation, I'm chuffed that somebody was able to relate, and I feel less alone."

Check out the blog here.