The arrival of a special bed known as a SafeSpace and a Play Therapy Pod packed with therapeutic toys has transformed life for a Redditch six-year-old with Autism, who is now safe from harm during the night and has also been able to play properly for the first time.
As well as Autism, Shay Edwards-Taylor also has ADHD and developmental delay which puts him at the level of a two-year-old. He doesn’t speak and is uninterested in playing with traditional toys, even with his four-year-old sister, Lana. Night times were also a struggle for the family as he has no awareness of danger and needs someone with him at all times to keep him safe – otherwise he will jump and climb windowsills, which puts him at risk of injury.
Worried about Shay hurting himself and existing on little sleep, his parents, Lisa and Jamie family contacted Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. After chatting with Newlife’s Care Services Team, the family applied for a Play Therapy Pod and a £6,905 specialist bed with soft sides which is specifically designed to help children stay safe and calm.
First to arrive was the Play Therapy Pod which is filled with around £400 of specialist toys. Each pod is loaned to a child for between 12 and 16 weeks and there are a variety of categories to choose from, depending on the child’s physical and learning age, abilities and medical needs.
Mum Lisa said: “Shay doesn’t play with toys, just an iPad, but we wanted to help him play with something more interactive. There is a particular ball in there which you plug in and it lights up and he really likes that, then his sister got involved and they were playing together. It was lovely to see. They took turns and it was the first time they had played together like that. It was very emotional to watch.
“A few of the sensory toys were a big hit, but it’s not like you can just go to the shop and buy these toys, they are too expensive, so the Play Therapy Pods are just perfect. When it came it was like Christmas day, designed just for him.”
Life for Shay and his family improved once more with the arrival of the SafeSpace bed, which Lisa and Jamie say quickly changed all their lives.
Jamie said: “Before, Shay would be up every night, jumping up and down on his bed. It was unsafe and his sleep was very poor.
“Now, he’s happy to go into it, he goes to sleep earlier and we think he feels safe in it. It’s very low sensory stimulation in there so he sleeps better too – and if he does wake up we know he can’t hurt himself.
“Having the bed has had an impact on his ADHD as he is generally calmer and sleeping better. We are hoping it will help him concentrate more at school. We also think he is using it to regulate his feelings during the day when he’s feeling hyper.
“The equipment from Newlife has transformed everything pretty quickly for us and we are feeling really positive after a difficult few years. The SafeSpace for Shay means we don’t have to keep going in to him as we know he’s ok, so we can get more sleep, which is helping us feel better too.”
Right now, there are another seven children with disabilities and terminal illness in Worcestershire with equipment needs totalling £12,087. If you think you could help, go to the website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/worcestershire and click on the Donate button. Alternatively contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to the Worcestershire fund will help provide specialist equipment for children in the county.
To find out more about Newlife’s work in Worcestershire, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/local and click on the map. For full details of Newlife Foundation’s range of practical support for disabled and terminally ill children and their families, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) – or go to: https://newlifecharity.co.uk.
Pictured: Shay Edwards-Taylor