About The Fairy who was different

 

Chloe Joanne O'Sullivan

was born on 1st of September 2005. She was born by Caesarean section and we were delighted we had a baby girl, but my heart sank as the attending doctor called me aside and diagnosed her with Spina Bifida and indicated that she might be confined to a wheelchair and could have diminished mental capabilities.

My whole world collapsed. Chloe was transported to University College Cork where she and I met with Dr Marks, an old school doctor who put his neck out and gave us a much more optimistic outlook albeit he still cautioned that we had a lot of work to do.

We then met with Claire Edwards of Enable Ireland, who called to our house and pushed us to keep up the physiotherapy. With her support, Chloe was crawling at 10 months. We then travelled to Andries de Bont in Cork City, and he fitted Chloe with a splint for her left leg. Chloe walked with the aid of the splint about the same time as any other child would, all thanks to Andries de Bont and Claire Edwards (She has since retired from Enable Ireland).

As parents, we understand Chloe will never run the 100m in under 10 seconds, but we strive to play to her strengths. She is very intelligent and artistic. We encourage her in sketching, painting, music and computers. She joined the local national school in Knockaderry just a day shy of her 5th birthday. All the school children were very friendly and helpful to her, but about half-way through her first year her classmates asked her why she couldn't keep up to them on the playground. There was no malice in it, just eager inquisitive children and she showed them the splint and explained how she was different and that she wouldn't be able to do everything in the same way as them.

The same year, Chloe was flying through my printer paper. She would take three or four sheets and fold and staple them together and put pictures and text on each page. My curiosity piqued, I asked her what she was at and she told me it was her book. After a month of this, I promised her that if she left my printer paper alone I would write a book with her.

I broke it down for her, first asking what the story was about. "Fairies", she answered. Then I asked her to name every character and from there the story was born. I became Chloe's scribe and spellchecker and we wrote the story over a month. Chloe was using a sketch book "Funky Things to Draw" at the time and used images from that to illustrate her story. On the computer, I lay it out for her, and printed off copies of her manuscript. I was hoping it would be our little secret but she was so proud of her book that soon she had told everyone about it. She took it to school and Enable Ireland meetings.

When Enable Ireland approached us about using the book for fundraising and awareness purposes, Chloe happily agreed. Paul Konye, the artist and author of "Funky Things to Draw" and Karen Shapiro, General Manager Publishing for Hinkler Books kindly allowed us to use our representations of the sketches in "Funky Things to Draw".

We hope you enjoy reading Chloe's story as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

All Proceeds go to Enable Ireland