Seven-year-old Makael Carthy is now safe during car journeys – unable to jump out of the vehicle while it is moving or grab the steering wheel from his mum – thanks to specialist seating and a secure harness.
Makael, from Grendon Underwood in Buckinghamshire, has autistic spectrum disorder which results in challenging behaviours. His sensory condition means he experiences ‘meltdowns’ when he is overwhelmed by the world around him.
Mum Lisa Baker explains: “Even the shortest journeys – like to and from school – were a nightmare. Makael would undo his seatbelt and try to grab the steering wheel while I was driving. I don’t know how I didn’t have an accident; if it had gone on much longer we probably would have ended up in a ditch somewhere, it was only a matter of time. It was restricting where we could go and what we could do as a family. Makael has a three-year-old sister so she was missing out on things too.”
Lisa found out about car seats and harnesses with magnetically operated fastenings designed specially for children with challenging behaviours – but there was no local statutory funding available for this sort of equipment.
With the car seat and harness she needed for Makael costing £761, she was advised to contact Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has helped 202 under-19s in Buckinghamshire, with equipment totalling £257,397.
Lisa said: “Every time I have spoken to one of the nurses at Newlife they have been amazing. Makael’s new car seat and harness – which he can’t get out of on his own – arrived last month, and it is amazing the difference it has made to all our lives.
“Just two days before it was delivered, Makael got out of his old seat and jumped out of the car as I was pulling into our driveway; fortunately he didn’t hurt himself. So the timing of the new equipment was perfect. It means I can take the children out without being anxious about what could happen next – and we aren’t restricted to short journeys anymore.”
Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “The UK has more disabled children than ever before – and without Newlife thousands would go without the equipment they need for everyday life. But we can’t do this alone. Please help us to help our disabled and terminally ill children.”
To find out how Newlife helps families in Buckinghamshire, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/buckinghamshire - the charity is currently working with a further three families in the county with combined equipment needs totalling £6,412. You can help by donating through the website or, alternatively, contact the Newlife Supporter Relations Team on 01543 462777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: Makael Carthy