Tactile equipment is a hit with Amelia
The parents of an eight-year-old girl from Gosport, in Hampshire, have publicly thanked Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, for funding a pack of tactile sensory equipment for their daughter.
Amelia, who attends St John’s Church of England School in the town, has autism and epilepsy, conditions that have left her occasionally non-verbal.
She also has sensory processing difficulties and struggles to cope with tactile sensations and crowded environments, and as a result she finds it difficult to socialise with other children.
Due to anxiety and stress she had to be home schooled for a period of time before she recently returning to school for just 30 minutes a day.
“We got the pack in December last year but we were just in the process of moving house,” explained Amelia’s mother Victoria, aged 33. “When we moved, just before Christmas, we were finally able to get the pack out and make a sensory corner in Amelia’s bedroom, and it’s been brilliant for her.”
Amelia has no awareness of danger and even struggles to interact with her two-year-old brother Freddie.
“Amelia has always liked listening to music and we bought her some lights that spin around, and in the old house she loved sitting in the dark watching the lights and singing along to pop music,” said Victoria. “So I asked Amelia’s Occupational Therapist about buying some multi-sensory equipment and she agreed that it would possibly be beneficial for her.”
Victoria, together with Amelia’s father, 35-year-old Steven, looked at what specialist equipment would best suit their daughters needs and saw that there was a lot of multi-sensory equipment to choose from. As Steven explained: “There were projectors and bubble tubes to fibre optic lights and dark dens, but in the end we all agreed that the tactile equipment pack would be best suited for Amelia as it was colourful and highly visual.
“It also contains a musical panel, a high power light board that included 192 LEDs, and an ultraviolet ripple mat that glows intensely under UV light.
”It’s also brilliant at encouraging exploratory play!”
However, it soon became apparent that there would be a financial barrier to Victoria and Steven buying the tactile equipment for Amelia. As Steven continued: “The pack that we wanted to buy cost eye watering £963, which was way beyond the family’s budget.
“We’d resigned ourselves to being unable to buy the equipment, which was really sad because we knew it would benefit our daughter so much.”
But then at a support group meeting somebody suggested contacting Caudwell Children to see if they could fund the pack.
“I emailed the charity and they sent me out an application form which I completed,” said Victoria. “We couldn’t believe it when they agreed to fund the tactile pack, we were overwhelmed.”
Victoria says that the equipment has already had a huge impact on her daughter’s life. As she enthused: “Before Amelia received the pack she wouldn’t sleep alone in her bedroom, she had always shared ours.
“But now she leaves the tactile packs lights on all night, which appears to soothe her, and she’s finally happy to sleep alone in her own room, which is unbelievable.
“What’s really heart-warming is that her little brother Freddie also likes the pack and they interact together when they are playing on it.
“This is so nice to see as she’s never really interacted with him before, so the pack is helping to build the relationship with Amelia and her brother.
“We can’t thank Caudwell Children enough for all their support, they’re amazing!”
Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, is delighted that the charity could support Amelia. As he explained: “It’s fantastic when parents tell us that we’ve had such a positive impact on a child.
“Without Caudwell Children’s funding many parents would be unable to buy this equipment as it doesn’t come cheap.
“Tactile packs 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 continue to attract Amelia’s attention and enable her and the family to relax and play together.
“But we couldn’t do it 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 Amelia.”
To find out more about Caudwell Children and the services that they provide, or to make a donation, visit: www.caudwellchildren.com