Charity supports three brothers in Coleraine
The parents of three teenagers from Coleraine, in Northern Ireland, have publicly thanked Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, for agreeing to fund specialist equipment for all three of their sons.
Josh, Ben, and Luke have neurological conditions ranging from Asperger’s syndrome to autism, which has left each of them with speech and language difficulties.
“As well as being very literal with their understanding of language my sons also have sensory issues,” said their mother Joanne, aged 39. “They also have no sense of danger, are extremely anxious, and find it difficult to mix with other people.”
The boys aged 17, 15 and 14 respectively, all have different sensory profiles so finding something that they could engage with, and that would meet their sensory needs, was particularly challenging for Joanne and her husband Peter, aged 38.
Joanne, heard about tactile sensory packs through a local autism support group and she was intrigued by them. As she explained: “I was told that packs can have a calming effect on children with a variety of neurological conditions so I did some research to find out more about them.”
Joanne discovered that there are a number of different packs each designed to suit a child’s individual needs. Some have projectors that can be used to bring walls alive with a variety of colours and images, whilst others contained bubble tubes, fibre optic lights and dark dens.
“In the end we thought that the tactile equipment pack would be best suite Joshua’s needs and a mixed lights pack would be ideal for Luke,” said Joanne. “The tactile pack was amazing as it contained a musical panel, a high power light board that included 192 LEDs, and an ultraviolet ripple mat that glows intensely under UV light.”
However, it soon became apparent that there would be a financial barrier to Joanne and Peter buying the sensory equipment. As Peter explained: “The tactile pack cost an eye watering £1,029 whilst the mixed light pack cost over £1,300, which was way beyond the family’s budget.”
Joanne and Peter had resigned themselves to being unable to buy the equipment but then they read about the Caudwell Children, on the internet. They were excited to find that they provide support to disabled children and their families across the UK, so they immediately contacted the charity.
“I emailed them explaining what we were after and they sent me out an application form which I completed with support from my GP and Occupational Therapist,” said Joanne. “We couldn’t believe it when they agreed to fund the packs, we were overwhelmed.”
They also found out that the charity funded specialist tricycles to help children with mobility and sensory issues explore the outdoor environment.
“The tricycle, which was ideal for Ben, cost a further £500 but the charity agreed to fund that too, which is amazing,” said Joanne.
Joanne believes that the tactile packs will make the boys bedrooms much more welcoming. As she continued: “Josh loves martial arts whilst Ben and Luke enjoy gaming and films but it can be difficult to manage their sensory difficulties at night time, and this can lead to anxiety and sleep issues.
“The boys have different sensory profiles so we chose two different tactile sensory packs, as one size does not fit all their needs.
“We’re hoping that they will have a calming effect on them, whilst the tricycle will allow Ben to ride outside in a safe environment and help him to gain some independence and allow him to control his own movement.
“We can’t thank Caudwell Children enough for their support and the boys can’t wait for the equipment to arrive.”
Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, is delighted that the charity could support the family. As he explained: “It’s fantastic when parents tell us that we’ve had such a positive impact on a child and in this case we will be making a huge difference to three brothers.
“Without Caudwell Children’s funding many parents would be unable to buy this equipment as it doesn’t come cheap.
“Even though Coronavirus is having such a huge impact on society our work does not stop and we will continue supporting disabled children in this challenging time.
“Tactile packs and specialist tricycles can’t be secured through statutory funding so it’s really important that the charity continues to fill this gap in provision.
“Each feature in the pack has been designed to engage children and hopefully it will attract the boy’s attention and enable them and the family to relax together, whilst the therapy tricycles has been designed to aid physical development and rehabilitation.
“It’s been engineered to make pedalling that much easier, and soon Ben will be able to pedal everywhere, safely.
“Some children have lots of energy that they are unable to burn off. With this equipment they’re able to do loads of high impact exercise without really noticing it.
“But the charity couldn’t do what it does without the support of the public and it’s only through their generous donations that we will be able to continue supporting other children like Joshua, Ben and Luke.”
To find out more about Caudwell Children and the services that they provide visit the web page here.