Ava McHugh, aged eight | Enable Ireland

Personal Stories

Hear first-hand from parents and adults with experience of Enable Ireland services.

Ava McHugh, aged eight

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Ava McHugh is 8 years old. She has one little sister, Kirsty, who is 5, and they live with their Mom and Dad, Lynsey and Alan in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. 

When she was two, in 2010, Ava was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy after her parents became concerned that she might not have been reaching milestones at the same rate as her peers. Shortly afterwards, she was referred to Enable Ireland.


“Since the first day they have been our support and safety net when it comes to Ava and all the different struggles she comes up against.  Ava’s diagnosis was a shock for us but, in Enable Ireland, there is always someone to talk to with any questions or worries that I might have.” 

Ava’s Cerebral Palsy affects her legs, making the muscles extra tight and it means her mobility is affected. Physiotherapy is an essential part of the programme of services that Ava receives, planned by Enable Ireland with Ava and her family. Lynsey says “Ava sometimes struggles with physiotherapy due to the stiffness of her leg muscles. It is essential for her in terms of keeping her mobile but it can be uncomfortable. Her physiotherapist is so patient with her and always makes sure Ava gets all the benefits from each session. It is all based around fun and this is an approach I really find helps when it comes to Ava. She loves her therapist, Caroline, and they have built up a brilliant relationship.”

Ava uses a number of pieces of tailor-made equipment that support her mobility. She wears supports on her ankles’ day and night to help with her walking and stretching of muscles and can walk independently. She has a walker which she uses when she is feeling tired. She also has a fantastic pink wheelchair for long distances as she tires easily. Lynsey says “it’s about finding the right mix for Ava so she has as much independence as possible and still has the support she needs if it’s required.”  

Ava also attends occupational therapy as she needs to work on her fine motor skills for example her pen grasp and learning to use tools that will help her develop her reading and writing skills overall.   

Ava’s favourite therapy is hydrotherapy - she loves being in the water. The 36 – 38 degree water works on soothing and loosening Ava’s muscles and therapists work with her to make sure she gets the maximum physical benefit from her time in the pool. Ava is now attending swimming classes on a weekly basis and Lynsey says she is a “fish out of water.”

One of Ava’s big goals over the last year has been to learn to cycle independently. She has recently completed a six week Learn to Cycle course run in partnership with Enable Ireland and South Dublin County Council and is now well on her way towards achieving her goal!

She also took part in the ‘Me & You’ social group run by Enable Ireland and it helped her emotional well-being and her confidence. Lynsey says “Ava is involved in everything! – GAA, Speech and Drama, she’s in an art club called Doodlebugs. Due to the support and continued therapy from Enable Ireland, Ava is attending a Gaelscoil primary school, going into 3rd class, and she is doing really well.”  

“Ava has come so far and is so well-adjusted and accepting. If I was asked to sum her up I’d say she is a brave, very determined and resilient little girl. She is happy, funny, and loves music and dance and we’re very proud of her.” 

Since 2015, Ava has featured in the TK Maxx Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, helping to raise funds for Enable Ireland. 

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