Four-year-old Elijah Randall has suspected Autism, which means life can be quite overwhelming for him. Some sights, aromas and loud noises are triggers which scare him, causing him to frantically bolt from his family or suddenly leave him unable to walk, talk or function. This made taking him outside so dangerous that the family had become virtually housebound.
Elijah, from Ammanford in Neath Port Talbot, has no awareness of danger, struggles to register pain and has hypermobility, which means his joints can move beyond the standard range and cause him difficulty walking long distances.
Mum Rebecca said: “Elijah runs away a lot – we did lose him on one occasion and I was having to ask people passing by if they had seen him. He has also run into a car. Thankfully it was parked, but because he has little awareness of pain, he laughed and wanted to do it again. That’s when we started to look into a specialist buggy, but our NHS Trust doesn’t provide them if the need isn’t medical.”
The buggy Elijah needs costs £3,015, so the Randall family turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, which was quickly able to come to their rescue.
The majority of the funds for the buggy were donated through Newlife’s partnership with fashion store chain River Island, through a ‘fantastic plastic initiative’. This sees the profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at River Island’s UK stores go to Newlife to directly fund vital equipment. To date, this has resulted in almost £600,000 of specialist support.
The new buggy is able to recline and is parent facing as this helps to keep Elijah calm. There is also a hip support and chest strap which deliver the pressure he needs to help him feel safe.
Rebecca said: “Elijah is safe in this buggy now – but not just safe, he’s happy and because we can see his face we know he’s happy.
“We are now able to go about everyday life much more easily and even do things together as a family. Recently we took Elijah to Chessington World of Adventure for his birthday, which is something we couldn’t have done before having this buggy – but he felt safe in it and when he went into sensory overload he was able to go to sleep in it. This meant we didn’t have to leave the theme park, so his brother, 11-year-old Jacob, didn’t have to leave either.”