Chrissie tells us how craft helped her when her and her son became ill.
Around 15 years ago I used to be a manager of two residential homes for adults with autism who had varying levels of communication and functioning. I left this position to pursue a nursing career and I trained as a mental health nurse. I started nursing life in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and my last position was a Clinical Specialist Nurse within The Youth Support Team nursing extremely damaged children.
Around 3 years ago I became extremely unwell and I eventually had to leave my nursing career. Nearly 12 years ago I became pregnant with twins who arrived 3 months early. They are my miracle babies and they survived against all odds. After 6 weeks it was discovered that I had CMV and that my twins had congenital CMV, a virus that the general public including myself have very little, if no knowledge of at all. I had never heard of CMV and it is the most major cause of special needs, deafness and blindness in children.
After a very difficult start to life and a difficult recovery, my babies did incredibly well and they were discharged home after 3 months in the neonatal intensive care unit. My son Zack however, started to display signs of communication difficulties, distress and anxiety when really became apparent when he started school. Unfortunately for us, we lived in a small village with people who had very little knowledge of special needs. Zack was quickly labelled as a naughty child and he spent most of his time either rocking under the tables, trying to run away or locking himself in the bathroom. Zack was diagnosed very late and he was 8 years old when we discovered the reason behind his difficulties. He now attends a different school along with his siblings that has a Communication and Interaction Centre attached to the mainstream classes. He is a very different child now and is a happy, content boy who loves life.
Three years ago when I first became unwell my son was still at the village school going through the assessment stage, he had difficulty sleeping and he was classed as high risk of being permanently excluded. I spent most of my time on the sofa and that year I was pretty much house-bound. The internet became my only contact to the outside world, I joined lots of support groups and my “friends” were the people that I have never met but we had all been on the same journey. During this time I discovered a healthy alternative group who shared ideas of items you can make in your own home. I was inspired by one of these ideas so to help my son sleep I taught myself to sew and Snugglebedz was born! It changed mine and my families life, we were not so affected my lack of sleep and I found a purpose to life and a focus.
A year later I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and I had to give up my nursing career. I now have a Facebook page and I am about to launch my website and online shop. I have sold lots of Snugglebedz, some to families who have children with autism and special needs. I do have a sensory bed which is in the design stage which would be perfect for special schools, centres and residential homes. My brand is trade-marked and my designs are protected by the IPO office.
You can read more stories of how craft has helped people’s mental health here.