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'There was nothing for children with arthritis'

Liadan Hynes talks to Christine Aherne about her 11-year-old son, Adam, who suffers with juvenile arthritis, and how his time with Helium Arts has brought both physical and mental benefits

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Christine Aherne with her 11-year-old son Adam who has juvenile arthritis. Photo: Don Moloney

Christine Aherne with her 11-year-old son Adam who has juvenile arthritis. Photo: Don Moloney

Don Moloney

Christine Aherne with her 11-year-old son Adam who has juvenile arthritis. Photo: Don Moloney

Adam Aherne was just two-and-a-half when he got out of bed one morning and found he was no longer able to walk. "He was a lively little boy," his mother, Christine, recalls now. "Then, one morning, he wasn't able to put his leg under him. For a few weeks, every morning he would get out of the bed, land on the floor and push himself along on his bum, across the landing to knock on the door of our bedroom because he couldn't reach the handle."

His parents, from Cappamore, Co Limerick, brought him to their local GP, who advised the couple to take him to University Hospital Limerick.

There followed several weeks without a diagnosis, until their helpful family GP recommended that Christine ask her own rheumatologist, who she had attended for some time for rheumatoid arthritis. Although part of adult services, he agreed immediately to see the little boy, and Adam was soon afterwards diagnosed with lupus rheumatoid arthritis - a condition where the symptoms present as inflammation of the joints.