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Helping our son as best we can

Charlie, Craig and Theo's StoryA QUESTION mark hangs over why Theo Abel isn’t meeting the same developmental milestones as other three-year-olds.

Although the youngster from Hyde loves to sit and play with his toys, he can’t walk, talk or follow simple instructions.

Despite many tests, his parents Charlie and Craig still don’t have a medical diagnosis as to what might be holding up their son’s development.

But, in the meantime, they are doing everything they can to get him all the support and equipment available to help him as much as they can.

The family are helping to raise awareness of Tameside’s Local Offer, which can be accessed at and should be the first port of call for anyone who has concerns about their child’s development.

The Local Offer aims to make it easier for families to make informed decisions and access services and support available for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Parents and carers are encouraged to seek advice as soon as they identify any concerns so that children can receive all the support they may need from the earliest opportunity.

Charlie and Craig told how Theo was born one week early and had received neo-natal care because of breathing problems. But no other issues were picked up until he was several months old when his parents raised concerns - initially about his vision.

Charlie said: “We weren’t getting any eye contact from him and we could only make him smile with sounds or touch. We also began to realise he wasn’t meeting other expected milestones.”

Theo underwent a series of tests from brain scans to genetic mapping but, three years on, his condition still remains undiagnosed.

“It’s a nightmare having no diagnosis – we can’t do any research or develop any expectations about what the future holds,” said Charlie. “It can also feel very lonely as you can’t talk to other families who are going through or have been through the same.”

However, despite the lack of a diagnosis, Charlie and Craig have accessed support - from physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help from the visual impairment team - for Theo through the Local Offer. Theo is known to the Special Educational Needs Early Years Panel - a multi-agency panel that aims to work with pre-school children to ensure their needs are identified and support is in place. The Special Educational Needs Early Years Panel was able to offer Theo an assessment place at Oakdale Nursery from September.

Craig said: “Even a year ago I would have been against Theo going to a special school but, as he gets older, we realise his needs are more challenging and now we wouldn’t want him to go anywhere else as we know he will get the best support for his needs there.

“The local support we have received for Theo has been brilliant. The staff have been lovely and very helpful, ensuring we have all the equipment and information to help Theo the best we can.”

Charlie, who is expecting another baby, said: “I really feel for Theo, it’s hard for him. He loves being around other children and I’m sure he will love it when his baby brother or sister comes along, but he always end up getting left behind his peers. People say he is so good and quiet but I would love him to be racing around creating havoc like other children his age.

“It’s hard not knowing what the future holds but we will continue to do anything we can to help him.”