Emma is six, and lives in County Down. She loves being outdoors and hunting for ladybirds and caterpillars, and also enjoys watching videos on YouTube. Emma’s mum, Eileen, said “Emma has a diagnosis of ASD. She doesn’t sleep, she has a lot of meltdowns and we need to be with her constantly. When we first got the diagnosis, we had no idea about the support that was out there, but I found out about Family Fund in a chance meeting with another parent. We were in the queue for the cinema when we got talking, and she told me about the support that’s available, including Family Fund, so I looked it up and decided to apply.”

“This year, we applied for a playhouse for Emma, she needed somewhere to chill out when she’s feeling overwhelmed. At first, she was a bit unsure about it, she didn’t like that you could see into the playhouse from the outside, so we decided to make a few improvements. Her dad painted the outside and added curtains at the window and door to give Emma some privacy and make her feel safe. Now she has a playhouse fit for a princess, and she loves it!"

"She loves to be outside but taking her to the park to play can be difficult as it’s too noisy for her and she can be aggressive toward other children. She has little danger awareness so she might try to jump from a height, so we avoid parks usually. Having the playhouse means she gets to play out in a safe environment where we can watch her and control the environment more than we could away from home.”

“We’ve been fortunate to also have an iPad from Family Fund, which has been an absolute lifeline. The educational apps help Emma with her learning. She loves watching videos, and it calms her down a lot too, it’s so useful. Recently, Emma experienced her first nosebleed and was really upset, she had a big meltdown as she didn’t understand what was happening and she was terrified. We got the iPad out and found some videos of other people who had nosebleeds so she could see that it was nothing to be frightened of. This helped a lot, and she spent hours researching – now she can tell you why nosebleeds happen, how to stop them, she’s the expert!

"The iPad is really helping her to understand the world around her. If it wasn’t for the grant it would have taken us a long time to save up, it’s lovely to know that there is that support available.”