Fri | May 29, 2020

He Holds Our Family Together

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Eight-year-old Leron Smith looks like the average kid and does most things normally, but his walk shows his condition of Cerebral Palsy.
Eight-year-old Leron Smith, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was a baby, is a motivation to his parents and others.
Tanesha Tomlinson, George Smith, and their son Leron.

DUNROBIN, Manchester:

It was no accident, and no regrets were experienced when Tanesha Tomlinson told her partner, George Smith, that they would soon welcome a new life into the world. A bouncing baby boy, the splitting image of his mother, graced their presence a little earlier than expected - with a miracle in disguise.

"Man, we were just excited! As newbie parents, we bought everything in bulk. Many of the stuff he still has to this day because we didn't even realise we were buying so many things in the same size. We were just excited," said Tomlinson as she tried to control the laughter.

After experiencing premature labour and quite a few glitches at the hospital, Tomlinson and Smith were able to take home their pride and joy, but they were not prepared for what would soon face them.

slow development

"Approximately five months after Leron (son) was born, we realised he was slow in doing things, like sitting up, and we noticed changes in his feet. We made several doctor's visits and were later told that he has cerebral palsy."

A congenital disorder, cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. It includes problems of poor coordination, stiff muscles, trouble swallowing, trouble with sensitisation, vision and hearing, and is caused by an abnormal development or damage of the brain.

"Before now, we had no idea what this was and what it entailed; awareness in our region was not created and so, for a while, we had to learn about the condition, deal with it emotionally and still provide the best care for our son," stated Smith.

Now eight years old, their son, through therapy and an environment conducive to his progress, is motivating them to press forward in faith.

"He is our first and only child and so you will tend to worry. At two, his motor skills were poor - we had to be carrying him everywhere. For four years I was a stay-at-home mom, and when George lost his job at Alpart, the financial struggles became real, but we still managed to get him into therapy and enrolled in school. That's when I began working. We have to be grateful, though, because some kids with the condition have all the problems (associated with the disorder). Leron functions almost normally. It's just his legs and his walking that would tell someone he has a challenge," Tomlinson told Family & Religion.

With corrective surgery that may require the family to go overseas, Tomlinson and Smith are hopeful they will get the help they need from corporate Jamaica, but are now focused on making their son the happiest he can be.

" We love the fact that he shows potential; he loves games and electronics and computer software, and we have told him that since his life won't be as the average man, if he wants to pursue this line of work in the future, we will make it possible," said Smith.

loves a challenge

He continued, "He loves a challenge. Even in his state, he will say, 'Daddy race me nuh', or when I have difficulties operating my phone, he'll take it, find the solution and jokingly say, 'But Daddy, how you have smart phone and nuh smart' ... . That's the kind of person he is. He holds this family together."

Tomlinson, who admits the work of a parent with a child who is challenged is hard work, states it is no reason for loving and caring for him or her any less.

"Don't give your child up. Love your child and help him grow and prosper ... . It is hard work, I know, but even in my case, I have to be grateful because it could have been worse.