AT NINE months old, Willow Baker couldn't sit up, stand and had no interest in trying to form words.

Just three weeks after starting physiotherapy with disability support service CPL, the cheeky Collingwood Park baby, who was born with Down syndrome, had already started sitting up by herself.

Her mum Jacinta Baker was shocked.

"By the fifth session, she was started to stand using props," she said.

"I almost cried with each milestone she was kicking, and I didn't believe it would happen so quickly."

Now, a few years later, Willow runs rings around her mum thanks to regular physiotherapy and speech therapy.

"I had a recommendation from another mum who uses CPL's services and I thought 'well, I'll give it a go'," Jacinta said.

"Willow turns five in September and is now running, climbing and jumping. We have trouble keeping up with her."

"It's been fantastic.

"She doesn't always take to people well but she did with everyone we met at CPL."

"When she was roughly 12 months old, she met with a physiotherapist at CPL.

"Willow would normally scream and cry when being made to push, but she took to the physio like they had known each other for ever.

"That was when Willow learned to stand and use equipment to stabilise herself."

Jacinta Baker of Collingwood with her daughter Willow Baker, 4, who has down syndrome.
Jacinta Baker of Collingwood with her daughter Willow Baker, 4, who has down syndrome. David Nielsen

Now the feisty four-year-old is able to play with her brothers and has developed a strong personality.

"She's not a girly-girl, we've established that," Jacinta said.

"She's very funny and enthusiastic about things now. She wants to be running around with her brothers and kicking a football.

"Now we can go to the park and she can run with them and we have to catch up. I think she wants to be a part of everything now she doesn't feel she has to sit on the sidelines any more. She gets in there and does whatever she wants."

A CPL spokeswoman said the service offered a range of therapies including physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

"We also provide community access and life skills programs," she said.

"Our children's therapy services keeps kids on track with reading and communication skills, picky eating, writing and holding a pencil, improving hand-eye coordination and playing.

"This supports them at school and at home, participate in sports, pursue their goals and increase their skills to set them up for life."

Jacinta said Willow worked on getting more speed when she ran and building her communication for when she started Prep next year.

"She's progressing well with CPL's speech therapy, we've only had 10 sessions and she's already saying 20-30 words," she said.

"She is repeating words from flash cards and navigating her iPad efficiently to do activities when she gets bored on those rainy days, all thanks to her speech therapists."

Jacinta said the organisation supported not only Willow, but herself as well.

"As a first-time single mum, at first I was a bit lost in everything. It was a major learning curve from the beginning," she said.

"Willow used to have to be carried everywhere which put a lot of strain on backs and muscles so I stayed home a lot.

"Once we started going to physio, they put me in touch with other mums so it was really good for both of us. Now as a family we are able to get out more."

The Collingwood Park mother offered her advice to other parents who might be in a similar situation.

"I would say try CPL. You don't really know until you give it a go. There's a high chance that it will work It's just incredible what they do."

About CPL:

  • The service used to be known as the Cerebral Palsy League, but now CPL stands for Choice, Passion and Life.
  • CPL's support packages include disability, therapy, employment and aged care services, so people can easily access all their services from one place.
  • The organisation has supported thousands of Queenslanders for more than 65 years.