toddler wearing black hoodie hugging mum who is wearing a hijab.

Meet Yaqoub – the toddler walking the walk and talking the talk

“He’s coming up to his second birthday which is really emotional for me, thinking back to when he was born and how far he’s come.” Iman, Yaqoub’s mum

Yaqoub was born at 25 weeks during COVID lockdown. There was little emotional support for his parents who couldn’t even be in the same room due to COVID restrictions, and mum had to wear a mask so Yaqoub didn’t see her face. Iman was worried this early experience in NICU was going to have a lifelong impact on her little boy.

“Because he was in NICU for 5 months I thought it would impact him socially, but he proved me wrong.

His character’s coming out, he’s mischievous and confident. He’s a problem-solving toddler; not fussy or demanding. He goes with the flow; if someone steals his toy, he finds another game.”




Disability isn’t a new world for Iman, one of her sisters has mild CP and her brother also has a disability, so she’s familiar with therapy and NICU. “I got flashbacks in NICU of when my mum was in there at 27 weeks with my twin sisters. I never imagined I’d be there myself as a parent,” commented Iman.

A year ago, Yaqoub was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – he was behind with his milestones, not sitting or rolling – and was referred to Cerebral Palsy Alliance Prairiewood by the paediatrician. Since then, he’s been doing physio and has grown very fond of his physiotherapist Tamis Pin.

“He knew where we were going, he knew the room, it wasn’t new for him and became part of his routine. Tamis had a wonderful way with him, he’d get excited to see her and offer her his toys (which he didn’t do to me or his brother!), and just enjoyed his time with her.”

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s goal directed training approach delivered by our multidisciplinary therapy teams supports clients like Yaqoub to achieve their goals. Tamis commented that “it was a privilege as a therapist to walk this journey from diagnosis to therapy with lovely Yaqoub and his mother. We witnessed a fantastic result from early intervention on Yaqoub.”   

Once he started walking, Yaqoub stopped physio with Tamis and he’s now dancing and working towards climbing stairs and running. He loves playing with cars and trucks – basically anything with a wheel! – and balls. He can throw and catch but can’t kick yet so that’s the next goal on his list.

“He just keeps reaching his goals. If you’d asked me a year ago before we started therapy what my hopes were for Yaqoub, I’d have said to walk and be an independent child. But he reached that so quickly and easily. I thought walking was a fluke, a one off. Now he’s really active.”

Yaqoub had a few occupational therapy sessions with Stacey Byrne from CPA but his social skills, playing and fine motor skills were OK so he will now check in with Stacey every 4-6 months.

“The support I’ve received from CPA Prairiewood has been of the emotional kind. I feel more confident, I know what I’m doing, how to communicate with Yaqoub and teach him. My husband and I are working on the same strategies, so there’s consistency at home whoever’s looking after him.”

Yaqoub’s about to start working with CPA speech pathologist Rianna Moiler, as he’s just begun to communicate. Iman commented that they’re working on understanding and responding through oral repetition. Apart from his therapists, older brother Abdulrahman is his biggest teacher and cheerleader, always teaching him new words and surprising his mum with what he’s learned.

Yaqoub is a big spiderman fan and has already made the word association between his brother Abdulman, who he calls “man” for short, and his favourite superhero! Mum has recently noticed a big difference in his speech. “Literally in the past 10 days he’s learned at least 10 new words,” commented Iman.

Another goal he’s working on is pretend play and mimicking. Mum commented that he mimics what the family does in real life – preparing pretend fruit from the kitchen in the playroom and sitting with it in front of the TV pretending to eat it.

“My hopes have changed for Yaqoub, I take it as it comes but I just want him to find what he loves. Now I can see him being a teenager, I want him to study and get an education. He’s heading in the right direction. He makes me so happy.”


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