Louisa is the 7-year-old child of Catherine. She has a range of disabilities such as severe ASD, ADHD, OCD and is non-verbal.
Louisa’s OCD is triggered by simple things such as a door left open or a coffee cup placed on a usually empty table. The anxiety caused by her ASD/OCD will result in her screaming out followed by self-harming. Louisa has such complex needs that a simple shopping trip will cause her significant stress. When Catherine takes Louisa out in public in her pushchair, the sight of lots of people in a crowded place will overwhelm her.
Catherine said, “There is no way that Louisa could ever be taken into a restaurant or out on a family trip. It’s just too stressful for us all, the meltdowns are so severe.”
Louisa also has an older brother Harry aged ten years with ASD. Catherine’s day will consist of caring 24/7 for her two children and struggling to predict what will trigger Louisa’s unhappiness and anxiety next. She rarely sleeps.
Apart from home help with a PA there was very little support for this family, especially in the long school holidays. Catherine was signposted to the Beams Kidscamp for Louisa, which gives daytime respite for children without parents needing to be there too.
Catherine said, “The team at Beams were amazing and so welcoming. They were a life-saver at a time when it was so hard to find anywhere to take Louisa which didn’t cause her severe anxiety, and which had facilities to cater for her needs. Beams was able to offer a range of activities supported with a 1:1 experienced member of staff – she went swimming, enjoyed the amazing facilities at their base in Hextable, and they also took her on a day trip to a local farm. It gave me just a few hours to spend time with my son, get to the shops or just sleep!”
Louisa’s brother Harry was also offered a place on the inclusive holiday playschemes. He was able to access various activities and facilities that his ASD diagnosis and related anxieties would have excluded him from experiencing in the past, including bowling and a trip to an outdoor education centre.
Catherine said, “The staff at Beams were so good with Harry, they were so experienced with ASD and spent time getting to know him. He really enjoys these days out and it gives him some independence and a chance to be with children his own age in a supported environment.”
Catherine has received support from our Family Advice and Short Breaks Team, and Direct Payment Service.
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