Boy born with brain damage after addict mum’s heroin abuse in pregnancy
Aaron’s grandmother Rita, or ‘nanmum’ as she calls herself, cares for him full-time
By George Morgan 22 DEC 2019
A Wirral boy born with a brain disease is one of over 2,000 children in the borough at risk from their parents’ drug and alcohol abuse.
Aaron was born with cerebral atrophy, a disease which causes brain cells to waste away, thought to be caused by his mother’s drug use during pregnancy.
Now nine-years-old, Aaron still needs to be peg fed due to the condition.
Both Aaron’s parents still have drug issues and are largely absent from his life, something which has a huge affect on his emotional well-being.
Both his parents were addicted to heroin, with his dad taking methadone and other recreational drugs as well.
Given this absence, Aaron’s grandmother Rita, or ‘nanmum’ as she calls herself, cares for him full-time.
As Aaron is peg fed, Rita needs to make sure the apparatus for feeding him is clean and hygienic before he is fed. This process happens three times a day.
Rita also has to work with Aaron’s school to get educational support for him.
He has sight problems which means he needs help accessing materials, his homework books need to be made bigger for instance.
Rita also takes Aaron to children’s groups, allowing him to make new friends who he can talk to about his feelings.
Aaron is one of many whose life has been severely affected by his parents’ drug abuse.
In 2014/15, 1,391 children in Wirral were at risk from their parents drug or alcohol abuse. In the most recent figures, that number had increased to 2,138, a rise of more than 50%.
Indeed this figure is higher than Liverpool’s 2,108, despite the difference in population, though the figure for Liverpool has grown at a faster rate over the last four years.
A spokesperson for children’s charity the NSPCC , said: “These rising numbers are gravely worrying because we know parental substance misuse can have long lasting impacts on a young person.
“Children whose parents have a substance problem might suffer from emotional or physical neglect, have difficulties in forming relationships later on in life, blame themselves, or feel they have to take on the role of a carer for their mum or dad.”
One service helping children in this terrible situation is Person Shaped Support (PSS).
PSS, a national charity based in Merseyside, which offers social support services and help to asylum seekers, is supporting Rita and Aaron through its family impact service.
The service is honed to support families who are affected by drugs and alcohol addiction.
It offers grandparents’ groups and children’s groups, which help people like Rita and Aaron talk to others who have to deal with a similar situation.
One-to-one support is also offered.