A severely autistic Winchester four-year-old and his family can finally enjoy getting out and about safely in the family car after the urgent delivery of a special car seat from the UK’s leading children’s disability charity.
Ethan Baker had exceeded the weight limit of his car seat as he is now the size of a six-year-old, prompting fears the straps would snap. However, because of his condition he still needs the same restraints suitable for a toddler and without them is able to lash out at his little sister – two-year-old Kitty – and distract the driver.
Ethan doesn’t speak and has limited understanding of the spoken word, instead preferring pictures, symbols and routines. He also has no understanding of danger and wouldn’t understand it’s not safe to remove his seatbelt in the car or move around.
In desperation Ethan’s parents, Caroline and Tommy, contacted Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness for help to fund the £560 seat. Recognising the urgency of the situation the charity released the funding for the seat within 15 hours of receiving the application.
Now the Baker family will be able to travel wherever they need to go, including medical appointments and Ethan’s special needs nursery, as well as continue with everyday family life.
“Ethan is able to travel safely in the car now – which is a basic need,” said mum Caroline. “We call his car seat his throne and he just wasn’t comfortable in the old one anymore. The first time we put him in the new car seat we could really tell the difference. We were worried about the snaps snapping before, but he so much more comfortable now.
“Journeys are safer and more enjoyable and he can’t reach over to his sister to hurt her. It’s great we could come to Newlife for help – we are really grateful.”
Newlife Foundation has created a specific Newlife Hampshire Fund in order to support the provision of specialist equipment to under-19s in the county area who are facing significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness. The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire enables local people to find out who needs help in the area right now and highlights support given to local families.
The charity guarantees that 100 per cent of money donated to the county fund will help children in Hampshire – where Newlife has already helped 346 children with equipment worth £540,893. But more help is still needed as there are currently 13 children in the county who urgently need specialist equipment totalling £16,900.
Pictured: Ethan Baker