Darragh Clarke And Marie Gooney (Parents)
Son Ollie Had E Coli Bacterial Meningitis
Contracted In 2008
Aged 13 Weeks
Ollie got E coli meningitis and septicaemia at 3 months old. He survived with no immediate or obvious problems. He had a brain scan at that time, but nothing in particular was showing up as his brain was swollen due to infection. As he started to develop we noticed some delays in learning things. It was taking him a long time to learn the basics such as teaching him to feed himself, dressing himself, toilet training etc. Ollie started school last year and found it difficult as there was so much going on at the one time he could not process it all. He found it so difficult to concentrate, remember people’s names and grasp all that was going on around him. He became much stressed and our loveable little boy was being lost in tantrums and tears. Ollie was walking around with a heavy heart and we did not know where to turn to, or who to speak to.
We tried speaking to our GP and public health nurse, but to no effect. We went to a Neuroscientist privately who addressed Ollie’s problems and for the first time in a long time, we actually felt relieved. This man diagnosed Ollie with having an acquired brain injury and also being on the autism spectrum. Ollie was suffering with a sensory overload. Now while this diagnosis was devastating for any parent to hear, there was also a sense of relief. Now we knew what we were dealing with. He became very frustrated easily and did not cope very well with too many things or people around. He had a very bad Christmas in 2013. Ollie sat in a room alone all day. We tried to get help for Ollie through the usual routes and found we were bombarded with paperwork, questions and endless appointments, but unfortunately the services were already at breaking point. Ollie was at the end of a long list of children, desperately needing help.
We contacted ACT for Meningitis in January 2014 and met with them. It was like a breath of fresh air to talk to people who understood, listened to us and believed what we were saying about Ollie. They immediately put a plan in place for Ollie to attend play therapy sessions with Emer and within 2 weeks he was attending them. Within 6 to 8 weeks we saw a dramatic change in Ollie. He became less frustrated, more outgoing and the jolly Ollie we fell in love with started to reappear. He is happier in himself and getting on a lot better in school now. Our neighbours, family, friends and Ollie’s teacher have seen such an improvement in him. We will always have to help and work with Ollie as he grows, but now we can see a positive future for him and us as a family. ACT for Meningitis has changed not only Ollie’s life, but that of our whole family. We will be forever grateful to everyone in ACT for Meningitis and Emer McDonagh for the play therapy sessions, as they have made a big difference to our family and Ollie’s life.