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'I Choose Not To Place 'DIS' In My Ability'

I was born on the 21st June 1982, the same day and not long after Prince William was born, my parents were so happy upon my arrival, because I was their first child. But there were a few complications at birth, and the umbilical cord connected me to my mother was tangled up around my neck, meaning a lack of oxygen was travelling to my brain. So I had to stay in the hospital for a while, and in the very early days under the care of the critical care nurses until my condition improved and then until eventually my mother and father could take me home.

After a while, and after the doctors and nurses did what they had to do to help me survive during my early days and weeks, I was diagnosed with a condition called Cerebral Palsy, along with a Cleft Pallet Hair Lip. Once I was home, as with any first child, my parents quickly 'learnt on the job' and gave me the best possible care that they could have under the circumstances. I was regularly back and fore hospital for regular check-ups due to my condition, and it was not long after my then consultants decided to perform my first operation, which was to close up the hole which had formed in the front of my cleft pallet. From there on, whenever my mother would bottle feed me, up until the wound had healed, she had to use a special baby bottle which had a slightly different spoon-shaped teat, which meant I could take my milk a little easier. Fair to say, that particular operation was a successful one. Until this day, with just a few mishaps whilst enjoying an occasional hot brew, there have been limited problems.

Moving on a little, as my hair lip was still open, the doctors and consultants then decided to operate again to close up the hole in my top lip, which meant going back into hospital for more surgery. This particular operation was, I'd say semi-successful because it had left me with quite a visible scar in the very middle of my top lip. As a child, this scar didn't bother me, because as a child you are less conscious of your appearance, and it's not until you get into your teenage years you start to notice those little differences.

So, if you remember, I went into great detail about the second operation I had on my hair lip in my last blog. By the time I was in my twenties, I felt that people noticed my scar even more. So I am now pleased I underwent even more surgery at this stage, as my top lip's appearance is almost perfect. I wish I had gone into surgery a lot earlier in life because the pain I was in was unbearable for a few weeks after.

Now let's get onto the theme of this blog, which is 'Breaking Barriers'. I want to talk about my education because every child is entitled to an education, whatever their disabilities or abilities are. I didn't start to walk until I was around eight years old, meaning up until then I needed a lot of care, so up until the time I became a toddler, I was looked after by my mother and my grandparents. As with any other child, the time was then rapidly approaching for me to start nursery, so basically, time to start my education and learn new life skills to put me on a good path into adult life. With most children, their parents filled out an application form to get them into the nursery of their preferred choice. Still, with some children, especially if disabilities are involved, a pre-school assessment is to be undertaken to determine if they are physically and academically able to go through school life. So, therefore, I was asked to attend one. Back then, after I had undertaken my particular assessment, Doctors told my parents that I should attend a Special Needs School. Still, they both weren't pleased with this decision, as they both felt that I would benefit from mainstream education. So, after numerous appeals, my application to attend a mainstream nursery was still being rejected.

By this time, my parents still were furious about this decision and were then thinking about having me homeschooled. Still, they decided to give it one final go at getting me into mainstream education, so they decided to get in touch with the local MP to arrange a meeting to discuss the matter, a meeting was granted!! After a long discussion with my parents, I went along with them and our local MP, and after witnessing the strengths and determination I had, they decided to fight my parent's appeal. To their delight, after months of fighting my case, the appeal was overturned, I was able to have a mainstream education after all. So, with the appeal won, off I went to start my education, I was granted my full-time Nursery Nurse too, for who I had with me right through my academic years, which for me was a fantastic help. Knowing I had the support, with the physical aspects of everyday life, I believe that this helped me to progress through my learning years, and without this help, would not be the same man as I am today, so I am forever grateful to these people, where back then did a fantastic job in the role of supporting me.

I encourage more people to take up these roles and become assistants to disabled people even now through their education. (Sorry, I don't know if the role is called 'Nursery Nurse' or if it now has a more advanced title, it was quite a while ago now). After I completed my Nursery School Years, a long hot summer awaited until I started primary school, where I was paired up with a different Nursery Nurse. Again, she was one of the nicest ladies I've ever met (I won't mention her name, but she knows who she is haha). Through my primary school years myself and my Nursery Nurse years built up an immeasurable bond, we were like the A-Team, nothing got in our way, we were so determined, and again, if a barrier was put in front of us, we smashed through it. This helped me to start grabbing my education with both hands, and I enjoyed learning new things. Another factor was, there were only six of us in my entire primary and junior school age group, so we benefited from being such a small group.

When I moved into my last two years of junior school, I started to find out that storytelling was one of my strengths, I loved English lessons because this was when my imaginative and creative mind was brought to life and developed. I believe that it was at this stage in my education that I learned the art of writing, and from there it has steadily progressed and inevitably has brought me to where I am now and to become an author and songwriter.

These are the years from the stage in my life that I always remember and always cherish. Onto Secondary School, and as it was called then, or Comprehensive School, and out into a bigger World I went, I think at this time, this was when my parents were a little apprehensive to what was to come? I was going from a relatively small valleys village school to a huge County School. This meant, I was paired up with yet another new Nursery Nurse, and again, a new World-beating bond between us was formed, which going back to the fact that for me having assistance in school, was vital for me, and has shaped my life so far for the better.

Starting secondary school meant i would meet many new friends, which has been invaluable for me. This has meant many more people were getting to know the real me, which has helped me in the social aspects of my life, (but that's another subject that I'll touch on in another blog sometime in the future). After five memorable years of my life, after sitting many, many exams, I then finished my education, coming away with nine GCSE's, which way back at the start of my education, is something my parents thought I would never achieve, but I did!

So, back to the title of this blog, which is 'Breaking Barriers!' Going through and fulfilling an education with Cerebral Palsy and a Speech Impediment was very, very challenging. Still, I wouldn't change anything if I had to do it all again; it played a massive part in shaping the person I am today. It has almost certainly played an important role in myself becoming an Author and Songwriter. Yes, there are certainly a few more barriers that I have my eyes set on which are just waiting to be smashed down, but all in good time!

I sincerely apologise for writing such a long-winded blog. But I hope you have enjoyed the read, and maybe I will be able to give some encouragement to others with disabilities, or even parents with children who have disabilities.

If you have any questions regarding the subject that I have touched upon in this blog, DON'T FORGET to ask me!! Until next time, bye for now. Don't forget to keep up to date with everything that's going on at

All the best,


Best Wishes,

Gavin Clifton

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