Sitting upright or standing are things that many people take for granted.
But Karen Macpherson describes them as “proud mum moments” when she sees her eight-year-old son, Alex, do these things.
Alex was born with oxygen starvation and has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, global development delay and is tube fed.
Karen, who lives in Whittle-le-Woods, said: “We don’t really know what caused it. His heart rate wasn’t right and I had an emergency C-section.
“He wasn’t breathing when he was born.”
Alex weighed 8lb 5oz and was the largest baby on the neonatal unit, where he spent three-and-a-half weeks.
She said: “In some respects we were quite lucky. A lot of kids with cerebral palsy don’t get diagnosed until they don’t meet their milestones, whereas we knew right from the start that would be the outcome.
“We have always known, rather than come home with a ‘normal’ baby and suddenly things started to go wrong.
“Obviously we were devastated though.”
Having the diagnosis meant Karen and husband Kenny could get on with caring for their son.
“We are just used to it and have never known anything different,” she said.
“He is still as helpless as a baby and can’t do anything for himself. We have to do everything for him.
“We left hospital not expecting him to be able to do anything ever. That’s what the doctors tell you.
“They said he would never be able to sit, walk, talk.
“It’s things that you take for granted and don’t even think about.”
When he was two years old, Alex started to attend Legacy Rainbow House, in Mawdesley, a charity which aims to change the lives of children with disabilities and brain injuries.
Karen said: “We needed a nursery that could give him what he needed, rather than just a mainstream nursery.
“At that point, he would just lie on the floor. He couldn’t roll over or do anything. He would watch people and is very nosy, but that was about it.”
Alex and Karen started going to a parent and child group, where he was encouraged to roll over, play with toys and interact.
He now does conductive education, which challenges children with disabilities to overcome their physical restrictions, in two half-day sessions each week, alongside lessons at The Coppice Special School in Bamber Bridge.
Karen said: “Alex has come on leaps and bounds since he started conductive education at The Legacy.
“His head control is improving all the time and he is now able to sit with very little help and he loves standing up with help from the conductive education practitioners.
“He is generally more mobile and his limbs are less stiff.
“He is learning to make different noises to communicate and is much more sociable and enjoys joining in with the other children in the class.
“He has also learnt to drink a small amount and eat a little although he still relies on tube feeding.
“Most importantly he is happier in himself and is becoming more independent.
“He really enjoys his conductive education sessions and gets very excited when we are on our way to The Legacy.
“He works so hard with the other children in his sessions and is achieving so much more than we could have ever dreamed of.”
Alex usually sits in a very structured seat, but he has learned to sit on a normal wooden chair with help and aids at Legacy Rainbow House.
He had surgery to restructure his hips last year, as they did not form in the right way.
He now enjoys walking in a mobility device called an upsee, where his feet are alongside someone else’s and they walk together.
Karen said: “It’s given him the chance to do things that we never even dreamed he would be able to do, things like kicking a football.”
Alex has also taken part in residential adventure weekends, where he has been canoeing, abseiling, caving, on zipwires and hanging in trees.
He has been nicknamed #ActionManAlex on Twitter for joining in with so many activities and has more than 800 followers on his account @alexmac06.
Karen said: “You get a lot of proud mum moments when you have got a kid like Alex. When they achieve something, no matter how small it is, it’s so special.
“Something as stupid as holding your head up and sitting up straight is massive.”
Alex continues to make progress, but it is not known what the future will bring.
Karen said: “To be honest, we take it as it comes. We can’t plan for anything because we don’t know how he’s doing or how he will do.
“We keep ploughing on and encourage him to do stuff and go to Rainbow House.
“Who knows what the future holds for him? As long as he is healthy and happy, that’s all that matters.”
Karen credits Rainbow House with helping Alex to progress and says the other parents and staff have also provided great support.
She is backing a campaign to help raise £720,000 for the charity to keep its services running.
They have previously taken part in the Rainbow Ramble to raise money and plan to do it again this April.
Karen said: “The thought of not having that place to support him and us just doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Legacy Rainbow House is looking to the community and businesses to support its work in 2015, for example by making a donation, sponsoring a child, attending or organising a fund-raising event, volunteering or becoming a corporate supporter.
To get involved, go to www.thelegacy-rainbowhouse.com.