Zoe is nine years old and lives with her family in Dorset. Zoe is autistic.

 

Daily life and challenges for Zoe

Mum Nikki explains that Zoe “struggles with things that most children can take for granted. She has started to notice the differences between herself and her peers – which isn’t helped by some unkind things said to her by other children.”

“Because of her autism, Zoe often faces sensory overloads and has meltdowns and these can become quite violent with her lashing out at me and herself.”

Zoe currently attends a mainstream school. “Zoe likes to be active and around other people, but she struggles to make lasting friendships. She has one best friend at school and a couple of other friends that she occasionally plays with.” Nikki tells us that Zoe can struggle to understand the rules of games – “She can get frustrated.”

Before the Coronavirus lockdown, Zoe was attending a lunch club at school and an autism spectrum disorder youth group at weekends to help her.

Impact of Zoe’s condition

Due to Zoe’s condition, she is “very immature for her age and really struggles academically and understanding emotions in others. She also struggles to understand and regulate her own emotions.” Though Zoe faces a number of challenges due to her autism, Nikki makes sure to tell us that Zoe is the “most loving, caring, and generous child you could ask for. She always tries her hardest.”

Nikki has to work part-time due to Zoe’s needs. “I have a very understanding employer who lets me swap shifts so I can attend appointments and meetings for Zoe.”

 How we helped

Nikki first heard about Family Fund through Facebook and applied earlier in the year.

We received a grant to put towards getting a dog (Max) for Zoe.

 

How it’s made a difference

“Zoe absolutely loves Max. She says she has a new friend who’ll always love her and listen to her, and not make mean comments when she gets things wrong or does silly things. Since having Max, Zoe has had one major meltdown and Max straightaway managed to get her to sit down and stopped her from hurting herself by pestering her until she stroked him.”

“Max is still a very small puppy and our aim is to train him fully so he can become an emotional support dog for Zoe. And it’s thanks to Family Fund that we’ve been able to get Max.”