Josiah’s story – making a difference for children with additional needs

Legal firm Irwin Mitchell share how one little boy living with cerebral palsy hopes to break down barriers through a new book. 

Published on: 26/05/21

The parents of a boy left severely disabled following an accident at birth are hoping to help people better understand children with disabilities and break down the barriers between children with disabilities and those without. They have published a book written from Josiah’s perspective about what it is like to live with cerebral palsy. 

Josiah Ellis, or Joe to his family, was starved of oxygen during his mum’s labour and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 

Staff at a West Midlands hospital switched off a heart rate monitoring machine for 100 minutes during Joe’s mum’s labour, and Joe, whose heart rate had decelerated five times before the machine was turned off, was born with his umbilical cord around his neck and had to be resuscitated. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 

The family sought legal advice from Irwin Mitchell who enabled them to get the right package of care and rehabilitation for Josiah; support with his Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP); and now publish and distribute a book. 

Instructing a legal firm

Joe’s parents instructed Lindsay Tomlinson, a medical law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, to investigate the care he received. Liability was admitted by the Trust for not providing an appropriate level of care.  

It was also admitted that with proper care Joe would have avoided all neurological damage. As a result, the family have secured the needed funds to ensure that Joe will have access to the specialist life-long, support, care and therapies he needs. 

As Joe developed, his needs continued to change and his family quickly identified that some of his needs were not being met through his initial education setting. 

As a result, Joe’s parents spoke again with the legal team that had supported them with Joe’s rehab package settlement. That’s how they were introduced to Steve Baylis, an education expert working at Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law and Human Right’s team, who worked with them to secure an EHCP that fully covered Joe’s needs and get a place at a specialist conductive education school.

Publishing Josiah’s book

Joe is a very loving and sociable boy, and through his interactions with other children, Joe sometimes felt that he could not explain his story to other kids and they kept away from him due to his disabilities. 

Joe’s needs are the same as with any other child his age; he wants friends to play with. 

To help him, and other children with complex needs in that mission, his parents, alongside Irwin Mitchell, produced a book titled My name is Josiah. This tells the tale of Joe’s life so far, the challenges he faces and why. 

Joe’s family is hoping the book will be used in mainstream and SEN schools, to teach children about how young people with disabilities are the same as them and to open-up discussions about why someone has a disability and breakdown the barriers in communication.   

If you would like copies of the book free of charge please contact Irwin Mitchell directly, putting the book request in the main body of the enquiry.

Find out more about the ways Irwin Mitchell's education team can help you and your child.