founder and Clinical Director, Andrew Brereton and was father to
Daniel who suffered with profound brain injuries at
birth. These injuries caused a mixture of symptoms, - some of
quadriplegic cerebral palsy and some of autism, although neither of
those diagnoses do justice to the true nature and severity of his
Unfortunately, Daniel passed away ten years ago, suffering a series of brainstem strokes.
Andrew and his wife Janet always knew that for someone with his pattern of brain injury (suffering injury to the lower brainstem) the length of his life would be severely limited, but unfortunately, knowing that something is going to hurt, doesn't actually stop it hurting when it happens! Andrew takes up the story from here.
Daniel was born at the North Staffordshire Maternity Hospital in Stoke -On-Trent on the 4th September 1987 and within a few short weeks was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
We were warned by the paediatrician that the fact he was able to make such an early diagnosis indicated a high degree of severity of the condition. He was not wrong and within a few weeks it became clear that I would be forced to give up my work as a chemist in the ceramics industry, in order to help my wife, Janet look after him. - Daniel rarely slept, he could stay awake for days and nights on end. This was an impossible situation for my wife to deal with alone and soon she was struggling to cope, whilst I went out to work.
Although in the early months of Daniel's life, I was largely at home, I became increasingly interested in Daniel's problems and in neuroscience, so I decided to enrol for a university degree at our local college of higher education, which is part of Manchester University. The structure of my chosen courses meant that I only had to be on campus part of the time, so I was still largely available to help with Daniel's care. Three years later I passed my degree with upper second class honours, my final dissertation being on the subject of "programmes of rehabilitation and their effects upon brain - injured children and their families."
The three years of my degree studies paid off in more than one way, - not only did they foster in me a greater understanding of the difficulties Daniel faced, they also highlighted some useful techniques which we could employ in treating some of those difficulties; some of these techniques really had an impact upon his quality of life.
My success in my studies also further fuelled my interest in this field and so I enrolled on further courses, eventually gaining post graduate qualifications in 'child development,' 'language and communication impairments in children,' and ultimately an MSc based in neuroscience and child development. I was also fortunate to be involved in several research projects such as the construction of neural networks to mimic cognitive processes in children, the design and employment of sociocultural learning programmes with children who experience learning difficulties and the design and employment of various communication therapies for children who experience language and communication difficulties.
Although throughout his lifetime, Daniel remained very severely disabled; our efforts at helping him were far from fruitless. At birth, Daniel was cortically blind and deaf. This meant that although his eyes and ears were working normally, his brain was not interpreting the sensory information, which they were collecting. However, gradually through our utilisation of techniques which I developed, we restored both his vision and his hearing. This may sound small beer in the global picture of overwhelming global handicap, but for Daniel it meant that he could now see his Mum and Dad; - that he could see, hear and begin to interact with his two younger brothers. - This revolutionised Daniel's whole being.
Sadly, Daniel passed away ten years ago. We miss him terribly and there will always be a massive hole in our lives. How do you get over the death of a child? However, the snowball of enthusiasm and interest, which he created in me, - interest in helping to solve the problems many children face, rolls on.
Using all of the knowledge, which my son passed to me, (despite all my qualifications and research experience, he remains my most astute tutor), I have established Snowdrop for Brain Injured Children. Snowdrop aims to take all the knowledge and experience amassed over the years and to utilise it for the benefit of children and families like ourselves. Snowdrop provides programmes of neuro-developmental stimulation for children who experience a wide range of developmental disabilities, including neuro-genetic disorders. Treatment is carried out by the family in the child's own home. Our 'programmes' are variable in their intensity, depending upon the particular problems displayed by the child and are designed to fit in with what the family can practicably achieve without placing them under an undue burden of stress.
The problems which Daniel faced during his life were insurmountable, but the fact that he was able to teach me so much is now helping children all over the world to achieve things in terms of their development and abilities which ordinarily they would never have achieved. He is still touching so many lives and having a positive impact upon them.