Life With No Limits Champion Jessica Burke | Enable Ireland

Personal Stories

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

Life With No Limits Champion Jessica Burke

Young woman in cheelchair

Jessica Burke attended Enable Ireland Children’s Services in Galway until she was 16 years old. Since then she qualified with a BA, MSc and MA in Clinical Neuroscience and Psychology and has recently returned to the service she attended as a child to work as an Assistant Psychologist. 

“I have Cerebral Palsy and when I was around 2 I was referred to Enable Ireland Children’s Services in Galway. I remember going to the pre-school there and having so much fun! I remained with the service until I was 16 and during that time I went to Enable Ireland for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and hydrotherapy. I especially liked the summer camps and the summer BBQs. These were always family events where I could go with my older sister and younger brother. That was really important to me and it made the service a very homely place. 

The biggest impact that Enable Ireland had on my life was to encourage my independence. I never felt that I couldn’t achieve a goal that I set for myself. Enable Ireland were always behind me, encouraging me to have my say in my life, to have my own voice. I never felt that my disability would get in the way of achieving my goals.

Up to now my goals have always been very focused on my studies. After I finished school I went to NUIG and did my BA joint honors in English and Psychology, followed by a Masters in Clinical Neuroscience and then a Masters in Psychology in University of Limerick. Now I am back in Enable Ireland Children’s service in Galway to complete my work experience in Clinical Psychology. It is lovely to be back here and to still see familiar faces from my time here as a child. My own experience of growing up with a disability gives me invaluable insights which I can use to support families and children. I have a special interest in improving mental health for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities. There is a real lack of awareness around disability and mental health. The prevalence for mental health disorders in neurodevelopmental disabilities is much higher than the general population however, the primary disability and cooccurring conditions often tend to overshadow mental illness in many different ways. There are definitely things that could be improved to better support children and adults with disabilities in Ireland.

Looking to my goals for the future, I’d like to get more experience of health services in other countries to see how they work, identify our strengths and areas where we could do better. I’d like to contribute to change and making things better here.

My message to others is that with the right supports disability doesn’t have to be a barrier, for me it has been an advantage. It has gotten me to where I am today. You may feel that your disability could hold you back but I would say, if you have a goal, go for it!  “