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The loan of a specialist travel bed from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children means a severely autistic four-year-old boy from Nottinghamshire can’t come to any harm during the night, but he urgently needs his own bed to ensure his long-term safety.

As well as having Autism, Timothy Dickson from Tuxford has development delay, no awareness of danger and sensory processing disorder – which makes it difficult for him to make sense of the world around him. He also has a condition called pica, which causes him to eat non-food items such as sand, soil and material.

Significant sleep difficulties mean Timothy only sleeps for three hours each night and as he would run around his bedroom, eat carpet, climb on furniture and radiators and unlock the window, his parents Laura and James would sleep on the landing so they would know as soon as he was awake. However, the bed on loan from Newlife has already made a huge difference to the lives of the whole family – including his 19-year-old sister, Jenni, who has Asperger syndrome.

Now the charity is looking for ‘local heroes’ who can help fund a permanent specialist bed for Timothy. Newlife already has £2,194 towards this vital piece of equipment, which costs £6,580, but £4,386 is still needed.

Described as a room within a room, the type of specialist bed Timothy needs creates a safe place with soft sides so that he can’t hurt himself, and allows Laura and James much needed peace of mind that their son is safe.

Laura said: “Timothy is incredibly endearing and as he has big blue eyes, grins like there’s no tomorrow and has learned stock phrases to make people happy, people don’t see beyond it. “It had become an emergency situation. If one of us were to stay in his room, Timothy wouldn’t sleep at all, so we would sleep on the landing and wake when he did. I’m disabled and use a wheelchair so we have a stair lift, but that means we can’t fit a stairgate.

“The bed we have on loan from Newlife has already made a tremendous difference to our lives because he is safe in there – although he doesn’t sleep any more than he did! Because of his conditions he has also eaten bits of his carpet and curtains, pulled his chest of drawers onto himself, pulled the door off the frame and we have even found him on top of his wardrobe trying to get into a projector we were trying to use to keep him calm.

“Having the bed means Timothy can’t get to anything in his room, so we can use sensory lighting as he can’t take it apart. He understands it is night time when the light is on and he has to be calm. We have already seen a big difference in him – he’s much more able to manage himself within his world now and he’s more settled; it’s having a positive effect on him.” The loan bed enables Laura and James to sleep without constant worry, which means they no longer have to live with chronic tiredness, which once caused Laura to fall down the stairs from top to bottom.

Laura adds: “We need a permanent bed for Timothy. This could be bolted to the floor so it is even more stable.”

Newlife needs donors and fundraisers who want to really make a difference, helping us transform Timothy’s everyday life. To find out how you can support Timothy, go to Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Nottinghamshire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county. Any money raised surplus to requirements for Timothy will be used to help other local children.

Pictured: Timothy Dickson