When life imitates art…the dual role of Mum and student nurse

August 7, 2018

This is Scarlett, my first-born child.  After two miscarriages she was the most eagerly anticipated baby you could ever imagine. I already had two step-sons living with us who I love as my own and slotted into the mother’s role, however, nothing prepares you for the instant rush of love when you give birth, this prompted me to go on to have another 2 boys completing our gang!


Scarlett was a late developer, she never crawled, didn’t walk until she was nearly two, and her speech developed very slowly with her little brother overtaking her. I worried, but being a first-time mum, I listened to my mother-in-law saying she was spoilt, rather than trusting my instincts. It came as little surprise that just after starting school the teacher expressed concerns, she recommended we contact the GP, who referred us to the Child development unit. Just before turning five Scarlett was diagnosed with a learning disability and developmental delay. 


When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability you instantly worry about their future, are they going to have the same opportunities as their peers? and you begin to question whether the future you saw for your child is achievable, would she pass exams? Have a career? Get Married? Have Children?  Silly questions to most I imagine.  I felt guilty for asking myself these questions, having this diagnosis had not changed Scarlett, she was still the same happy, loving little girl she had always been.  It was at this point that Dad and I agreed that Scarlett would be given the best possible chance in life regardless of any barriers, we would fight for what’s best for her.


Scarlett was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at aged 7, this explained some of Scarlett’s behaviour, daydreaming, difficulty staying on task or even sitting still.  Regardless of any diagnosis though, Scarlett has always given 100% to every task, this determination and my experiences with Scarlett inspired me to set out on my career journey into learning disability nursing so I applied to study an Access to nursing course at my local college.


Fast forward 4 years, Scarlett is 12 and approaching puberty, which means she’s like a volcano ready to erupt most of the time, I’m told this is completely normal and to be prepared for the next few years.  There’s no doubt that Scarlett is my best friend and we spend a lot of time just chilling out and messing about.



I’m now at the end of the second year of the degree course at USW, I’m passionate about helping people with learning disabilities achieve the optimum quality of life, much like I try to achieve for Scarlett. 


I have had highs and lows but I wouldn’t change a thing, these stories can wait until another time though, right now I can hear a thundering on the stairs and a shout of “SCARLETT’S COMING!!!”





Paula Richardson

(Student Nurse)

















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