Seven-year-old Isaac lives in Halifax, England, with his adoptive mum, Amanda, and older sister, Andraya,14. Isaac was diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is classed as organic brain damage that first occurs within the womb when the foetus is growing.
Amanda explains: “If a birth mother drinks alcohol, the foetus will absorb the alcohol and as a result the baby’s stem cells will be damaged. There’s no safe limit of alcohol when pregnant.”
Amanda adopted Isaac when he was 18 months old. She also adopted his sister, Andraya, when she was two years old. Amanda says: “It wasn’t until I had Isaac for six months that he received the diagnosis. The condition affects Isaac’s brain and how he sees the world. He can become overwhelmed and aggressive easily. His behaviour is unpredictable and impulsive. On some occasions, we can predict that a meltdown is coming, but sometimes we haven’t got a clue. It’s really challenging trying to manage Isaac’s behaviour because something that works one day may not work the next. Additionally, the part of Isaac’s brain which is damaged means that he doesn’t produce melatonin. So, he has a poor sleeping pattern and can barely function when tired.
“Caring for Isaac is a full-time job. I had to give up work to look after him, since his needs are so complex. We have to do everything for Isaac including getting him dressed and fed. It’s like having an 18-month-old baby in a seven-year-old’s body.”
“With the cost of living crisis, we’re just about managing. We have to keep the lights on all the time for Isaac. He also likes to stay warm, so we need to have the heating on. There are things like that we can’t compromise on. Therefore, we try to tighten our belt in other ways. Andraya has stopped doing a few of her clubs and activities so we can save money that way.”
How Family Fund helped
Amanda says: “Family Fund are a life saver. If it wasn’t for the grants that they provide, I probably would have had a breakdown. You don’t realise how great the impact of the grants are until you receive one. I could never have afforded the grant items on my own. Family Fund has had a huge impact on our lives of Isaac.
“We’ve received several grants over the years, including outdoor play equipment, sensory items, a washing machine, and family breaks. The washing machine grant, especially, was a great help. Isaac used to love to sit in front of the washing machine and watch it go around. Also, due to his brain damage, Isaac urinates a lot and can sometimes wet the bed so we often have a lot of washing to do. The grant from Family Fund allowed me to upgrade my washing machine from 5kg to 9kg.
“In recent years, we received some family break grants. We go to the same Haven holiday park every year. Everybody there knows Isaac. They give us the same caravan each time and greet us when we arrive, which is lovely. The break offers us all a massive chance to re-charge and feel relaxed.”
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