The pocket-rocket from Kingsley was recently given a Lions Club Child of Courage Award for his determination despite living with what his grandmother Rochelle McDonald described as ‘enormous setbacks’.
Liam has multiple disabilities including an intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He is non-verbal, unable to walk long distances, uses a walking frame and wheelchair, requires constant supervision, can only eat small portions and can’t feed himself.
‘The award is a positive recognition of Liam’s determination despite the enormous setbacks he has endured in his short life,’ Mrs McDonald said.
‘Liam is so happy and cheeky and is continuing to astound all of us, so it actually is a boost for all of us to keep going, a bit like the Little Toot ‘I think I can, I know I can’.’
Mrs McDonald said the first time she noticed her grandson was different was the first time she held Liam in her arms when he was two weeks old.
Liam doesn’t qualify for funding or a Health Benefit Card and his grandparents have helped raise him for the past three years with his father Glenn who works away.
‘When Liam is with us, he needs both of us ” his grandparents ” working as a team to give him a comfortable life,’ she said. ‘Liam needs assistance with all aspects of his life. He requires constant one to one supervision.
‘This means whoever is with Liam needs to be totally involved in what he is doing all the time.
‘He is on the go at least 12 hours every day, and that means he does not stop, there is no quiet time. Each of us can’t do this alone.’
Mrs McDonald said having Liam in their lives had been rewarding, joyful, exhausting, frustrating, difficult as well as a learning experience.
‘Raising Liam is teaching all the family perseverance, tolerance and acceptance for those less able than us,’ she said. ‘We are in awe of his happiness, his perseverance and his tolerance.’
Mrs McDonald acclaimed Gladys Newton and said without schools catering for students with such high needs Liam would not be at school.
‘His high needs and challenging behaviours would be too difficult to manage in main stream,’ she said.