Family of the Week: Adam-Smith

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Single mum Rachel Adam-smith, 38, was born with congenital heart disease and is a carer to daughter Francesca, 13, who has the extremely rare Chromosome 16 deletion and duplication which means she cannot speak and has complex medical issues. They live near Wetherby.

What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask?

To remain really calm and I often have to resort to play acting with her teddy bears, the teddy bears asking her to do something and it usually works or sitting and reading a book until Francesca decides to do as I ask.

What family task takes you the longest?

Feeding my daughter because of her complex special needs.

Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?

Her strength and determination at times. Francesca cannot talk and occasionally she will say the odd word, which takes everyone by surprise and we wonder whether she has really said it.

Mini moan - what really gets your goat?

People that moan about the slightest thing. Having spent a vast amount of time in Great Ormond Street Hospital and LGI, I struggle when people moan about the slightest thing. My daughter uses sign language to communicate and this is her form of communication, she is very sociable, it annoys me when people do not respond when she is trying to say hello to them... it is just bad manners.

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?

I love taking my daughter horse riding and hearing her laugh when we trot. I enjoy going for a walk and clearing my head, as well as going horse riding myself, when I get the opportunity.

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

It is very challenging having a child with special needs, made even more difficult when you are constantly having to battle the education system, trying to ensure that your child receives the provision they are entitled to and need.

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?

La Bottega Milanese, The Light Leeds. My daughter and I visit here about once a week after hospital appointments, Francesca loves their cakes and the lasagne is fantastic, as well as the peanut brownie, if I am feeling naughty. The staff are really lovely with my daughter and really make an effort and the atmosphere is relaxing.

What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?

Fish pie and yoghurts.

What is your most treasured memory?

I have lots of treasured memories but going to the park with my Pop Pop (Granddad) as a child and getting fish and chips from Harry Ramsdens at Guiseley and taking them back to have with my Grandma and Granddad in Silsden.

What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?

More accessible disability parking and more restaurants that are willing to purée food for my daughter and other children with complex eating disorders.

One family member’s proudest achievement?

Proud of the fact I worked as cabin crew for five years, as I was born with congenital heart disease and never thought I would be able to work as crew.

What one item can you not live without?

My heart drugs.

What can your children not live without?

Andre Rieu - Francesca is obsessed with watching his concerts on DVD. We had tickets to see him last year but unfortunately ended up in Hospital, so could not go.