If you know me pretty well then you will know I never ask for help. I grew up being told "if you want something, word hard and go get it," "if you want something done, do it yourself," "if it’s too good to be true, then it is"…you get the idea.

At the time I felt pretty hard done by, but it’s those imprinted early year traits that make me the strong, independent, and motivated woman that I am today.

Whilst it’s great doing most things on my own, slowly over time I’ve let small parts of my guard down and allowed selected help. Sounds crazy, right? You honestly have no idea how difficult I find it.

I hate being let down, it affects me in a way I cannot explain. So I believe if I do everything myself, I can still maintain those friendships/relationships without tempting things to go wrong, no matter the impact this has on myself.

My world crumbled along with everything in it. Suddenly I felt completely helpless and powerless. A feeling I wasn’t used to, a feeling I don’t like.

"I have a cousin who has autism, I understand." These are just words. Until you have a child of your own with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)/special needs you will never fully understand the impact this has on you, your family, your life, as well as the changes you have to make, the sacrifices, the added worries, and that’s just getting started!

Overnight I turned into a keyboard warrior, thinking I could cope and do it alone. I spent endless and sleepless nights researching and trying to find a cure. The truth is I couldn’t and still can’t do everything on my own (five years on).

Sometimes I get cross with myself because I do need help and support. But I think we all need some help and support at times, and that’s ok. Whether this be with your child/children, your relationship, your mental health or something else. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. I think that it makes us brave for standing up and being honest and true to ourselves and striving for a better quality of life.

Family Fund was one of the first organisations I encountered. I guess you could say that’s why I write with them when I can. They’re a charity I hold close to my heart. A charity who has helped my little family over the past five years never asking for anything in return.

I reached out to them some years ago, not really knowing what to expect. I remember having a long conversation with a woman and describing Riley to her. She showed me support and empathy and gave me some ideas about the type of things they could supply to help suit Riley’s needs. Within just a few weeks we received a brand new iPad with a screen protector and military tested case!

I was immensely overwhelmed with their kindness and generosity, I think I even cried! You’ll probably see Riley with his iPad in almost every photo I post to social media. This has become his security blanket and although he has it with him 99% of the time he’s not necessarily glued to it 24/7. Riley is very ‘switched on’ and in tune with his surroundings.

At the start, I’m not going to lie, I felt guilty and embarrassed to ask for help. What Family Fund has given to me and my family, I cannot put a price on. They helped provide my son with a tool, an escape route that allows him to cope in a world he’s still struggling to understand. They took away part of my money worries, part of the everyday challenges we all face as a family and in turn replaced this with guilt free peace of mind.

Like me, Family Fund have my son’s best interest at heart. They want to help provide something to make his already confusing and challenging life easier, happier, and inclusive.

Riley sync’s his iPad with my iPad/Phone/TV so they play the same things at the same time to the second, whether it’s in English or a different language. Riley plays songs and rhymes over and over, and started copying through echolalia. He also is understanding more Makaton, selecting certain Mr Tumble programmes part way through.

Developmentally the iPad has hugely impacted Riley and it allows my daughter and me to live a relatively ‘normal’ life. We both know if Riley has the security and comfort of his iPad then he should be ok to adjust with our day whatever we may have planned.

The beach is our go to. There’s no place we’d rather be. Fresh air, beautiful scenery, calming sounds and very relaxing! The best things in life are free.

Asking for help is scary, believe me I know! What I think about now when I apply for funding is what’s best for Riley, 

what will help to make his life easier, happier, and more fulfilled.

You don’t even need to speak to someone when applying. This can all be done online, it’s never been easier. Go on, go for it – do something that scares you today!

Find out how to apply for a Family Fund grant here.

Read more from our Family Fund Bloggers.

To read more from Clare, visit her website.