Harrison is seven years old and he and his mum, Ashley, are waiting for him to be officially diagnosed with autism. “He has learning, social and behavioural difficulties, and we’ve learnt that at 7, he has the emotional age of a 24-month-old. At first, I buried my head in the sand and refused to believe that my son might have autism, but since then I’ve had so much amazing support from my family. It has been quite tricky, we have our ups and downs, but we try just to take it day by day. A friend of mine has a son who has additional needs, and she told us about Family Fund and suggested that we apply for a grant to help Harrison – our request was accepted, and we were over the moon!”

Harrison was awarded a grant for sensory equipment and a bed, which Ashley and her mum have used to create an incredible sensory bedroom for Harrison, where he feels safe, happy and relaxed. “As soon as we got the award letter, me and my mum were on the Learning Space website looking at all the amazing things that they offered.  When the sensory equipment started to arrive, we began incorporating it into his room straight away, and it made such a huge difference.”

“Before, Harrison used to be so scared of being alone in his room which made night times really difficult. He would sneak into my room because he was afraid, and he soon figured out that if he didn’t wake me up, I wouldn’t put him back to bed! At one point, he would wake up about an hour after I put him to bed, and then he’d be up all night. Since we introduced the sensory toys and lights into his room, he’s been in there every single day, the lights are now part of his bedtime routine. After his bedtime story I leave the main light off so he can watch all the sensory lights – his favourite part is the solar system lamp, which is amazing, but the jellyfish and the moon are fantastic too. They help him to relax and feel safe, and often he’s asleep after ten minutes!”

“Harrison also loves to build and create things, but like most children he’s quite partial to TV. The sensory stuff has also really helped us as we’re currently trying to wean him away from television!”

“Without the grant we would still be at square one, not sleeping and ripping our hair out, so to speak. We are immensely grateful to Family Fund for the grant. The lady that came to visit us was so lovely, even though Harrison can be afraid of strange visitors. I really am so glad that my friend told me about Family Fund, the difference it’s made has just been incredible.”