• Rhona Cullinan

Welcome to The Special Needs Mum Blog!

Hi and welcome to my first ever blog!! My name is Rhona and I’m a 46 year old mum to 3 beautiful children. Jamie is 15, Joshua is 4 and Molly is 3 (yes a geriatric mum as I have been technically called!). We live together with my partner Martin who is dad to the youngest two.

15 years ago I was in the height of my career as a professional freelance makeup artist, I was on Expose, Ireland AM with a big celebrity clientele and I was featured in newspapers and magazines regularly. I had planned a 3 month trip to LA where friends of mine had moved to, with the hope of furthering my makeup career in the movies. Then unexpectedly at the age of 30 I found out I was pregnant. Having been in an on off relationship with the baby’s father it wasn’t exactly part of my plan, but life takes you in different directions for different reasons!

We parted ways as Jamie’s dad decided he wasn’t ready to be a father! (Pfff) So with the help of my amazing family I brought Jamie into the world as a single mum but I was proud as punch. On the day he was born I was told that he had a problem with his left foot – a condition called Talipes – more commonly known as Clubfoot. He needed physiotherapy 3 times a week to try and turn his foot back in and later required several surgeries to repair his foot. After 3 years of boots and bars at night time he finally got the all clear.

He was a gorgeous kid and very intellectual – regularly reading the Independent Newspaper and designing board games or playing nintendo games. By the age of 5 or 6 I did start to notice a behaviour change – he started to get quite agitated at the smallest thing, he hit out at people – especially at kids parties and became quite a loner with lots of problems at school. At the age of 7, after 2 years of assessments and tests he was finally diagnosed with Aspergers. It wasn’t easy to accept his diagnoses and there wasn’t much information back then but I learned to accept Jamie's differences and am still learning about him every day.

I met my partner Martin 7 years ago …little did I know then what the future would hold! Four years ago I gave birth to our cheeky little chappy Joshua – blessed with ringlet curls and a big warm smile he was a little character! When he was 9 months old we announced we were again expecting – this time our little princess Molly! However this pregnancy was to change everything. At our 9 week scan they discovered she had a heart condition – later to be fully diagnosed as Tetrology of Fallot which would later require open heart surgery – should she survive the 9 months! As you can imagine not an easy thing to hear!

After a turbulent pregnancy with many ups and downs, Molly arrived in dramatic style with an emergency caesarean – that was the day we found out she had Down Syndrome. With everything that went on at that time we started to see a huge difference in Joshua – he started to

withdraw , stopped talking, stopped eating a lot of food, became sensory to noise and busy places and started stimming – flapping his arms and constantly bouncing on his knees.

While watching other mom blogs on facebook, I soon recognised a lot of his symptoms looked exactly like other mums kids – kids who had autism. We got him assessed asap and they confirmed our worst fears – Joshua was autistic! So there you have it – 2 open heart surgeries later, a third diagnosis – 2 babies under 2 with months of physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and not forgetting Hydrotherapy and with the use of CBD Oil which is a whole other story – I have the cutest (if I do say so myself) 2 babies and a teenager who I wouldn’t change for the world.

They have taught me so much – patience, understanding, strength I never knew I had and unconditional love! Yes my life is tougher than some others but not half as bad as some people have it – I like to think very positively and only focus on ability not disability. And yes, I'm still a Makeup Artist and now a qualified wedding celebrant – going to work keeps me somewhat sane!

For 3 years I’ve been posting to Facebook and Instagram sharing Molly and Joshuas daily journey (not always Jamie as hes camera shy) I show the ups and downs, the therapy’s and the fun they have together – I truly believe they were born to bring out the best in each other – they are mad about each other what one may lack the other makes up for. Im very lucky! So if you are still reading this then please keep following – i'll be posting regularly about life as a Special Needs Mum – talking about autism, Asperger’s, down syndrome, heart defects, CBD oil and travel and life with my amazing kids!

Love Rhona x





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