Matthew's Story Background Matthew is 14 and lives in a small village near Conwy with his mum, Anwen. Anwen explains that “Matthew has a formal diagnosis of autism, with traits of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, some sensory issues, and hypermobility. "Most of these are hidden disabilities, I wish people understood that Matthew isn’t naughty, and that it’s because of his disabilities that he sometimes acts the way he does.” Family Fund provided a grant for Matthew and his family to go on holiday before Matthew’s dad passed away from Leukaemia. Daily life for Matthew “Matthew used to attend mainstream school, but they didn’t really know how to support him best. He’s now at a special needs school, where they can help him far more. Where his behaviour is understood.” “Sometimes he is hyperactive and loud but recently he’s learnt that I have health problems so he refers to me as a ‘delicate flower’ and is more careful than he was.” Anwen has helped Matthew find ways to use his energy that are also fun for him. “He loves kickboxing, and has just started lessons, his first lesson was over zoom. It helps him to get some of his energy out, and teaches him discipline.” Matthew also needs time to decompress and calm down sometimes as he can become agitated and aggressive. At these times his behaviour can become challenging and difficult to deal with. He loves when we go to the farm and he can go out on his bike and have the freedom and space to be himself. How we helped “Family Fund allowed us to go on holiday as a family, somewhere that wasn’t too busy for Matthew, where people wouldn’t judge his behaviour and us as parents.” “It allowed us to make memories together before Matthew’s dad passed away from Leukaemia, meaning Matthew can now look back at those times with his dad as part of his memory box.” Matthew made a memory box to remember his dad, which includes photos from the family holiday provided by the charity. How it made a difference “We couldn’t afford to go on holiday, as Matthew’s dad was retired.” “Matthew was unable to have somewhere where he could have the freedom to be himself, where parents in the street weren’t saying that he was naughty or that we were bad parents.” “It meant we could go somewhere quiet and let Matthew be himself, whilst giving us a break too.” Read our latest survey on the impact of Coronavirus on the families we help or more stories from our families here. Find out more about applying to Family Fund. How you can help If you would like to support more families like Matthew's, please donate to Family Fund. To keep up to date with more stories you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.