This is one way we helped Jo Bird and her family after her children both contracted meningitis back in 2012.
Older son Byron, two at the time, thankfully made a full recovery from the disease. But Liam, aged just 10 months when he became ill, was left with an acquired brain injury – although he was originally misdiagnosed with chicken pox.
Jo told Meningitis Now Community Support Officer Dawn McNiff that those terrifying days would be “forever imprinted” in her mind as they were so scary. But at first, the family were unaware how Liam had actually been affected by his meningitis experience.
“Liam was really struggling when we first found Meningitis Now (then the Trust),” she said. “He was about five and was finding school hard, he was really tired and having lots of melt downs.
“We had a visit from the Community Support Officer (CSO) who mentioned that he could have an acquired brain injury (ABI) – it was the first time that we realised his behaviour could be linked to meningitis.
“The CSO gave us the info on ABI and the penny just dropped. It was so Liam!”
Having identified what it was that could have been causing Liam’s problems, Meningitis Now’s CSO then referred the family to the Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT), who visited Liam’s school and trained the teachers on how to support children with ABI. This included things like “sensory, or brain breaks” and was, according to Jo, “very helpful”.
Dawn, who has known Jo, Liam and the rest of the family for the last few years, said it was always satisfying to be able to help people who have been impacted by meningitis to get help from other organisations.
Dawn said, “Although we have much expertise and experience in support and after-care for people living with the after-effects of meningitis, we can also signpost families to organisations who can provide specialist support in specific areas. It’s great that CBIT were able to support Liam and his teachers in the classroom which is very much their area of expertise”
“Meanwhile, I’m very glad that we have been able to support Jo, Liam and family ongoing in other ways. For example, we were delighted that the whole family were able to come to our Family Day at Bristol Zoo last year.
“Liam seemed to get a lot out of the Family Day. He smiled all day - and Jo said he had a really great time!
“I look forward to continuing to support them all in the coming years”.