Andover mum Hayley Kirby-Bulner found her toddler son choking and gasping for air with a splinter from his cot stuck in his throat.
Twenty-two-month-old Leon has autism. Like any other toddler he is full of energy, constantly getting into things he shouldn’t. One of the effects of his condition is he craves the sensation of chewing things, which can have life-threatening consequences.
Despite Leon being referred to see an Occupational Therapist, mum Hayley says no one came. And when she chased Hampshire County Council, was told they couldn’t provide any equipment and the case was closed.
“Putting your child to bed knowing they’re at risk is the worst feeling in the world”
Mum Hayley said: “Putting your child to bed knowing they’re at risk is the worst feeling in the world.”
Thankfully, a friend put Hayley in touch with Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – who recognised how perilous their situation was and immediately dispatched a specialist bed for Leon through its Emergency Equipment Loan service.
Hayley said: “I tried everything. Leon even chewed through the mesh of his travel cot so his head poked through. In the end we both ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor!”
With high, soft sides, the specialist loan bed has nothing that Leon can chew on and his mum can sleep without worrying he will be injured.
Hayley added: “Leon loves the bed and he’s sleeping better. It’s just good to be able to put him to bed knowing he can’t get hurt!”
Newlife is the largest charity provider of specialist equipment in the UK and the only one providing an emergency loan service preventing children from serious injury or worse. The charity also works with the family and local health services to find a long-term solution.
Stephen Morgan, Newlife’s Head of Charity Operations, said: “Leon’s need to chew comes directly from his conditions, but a distinction between health and social needs is often made when it comes to local council budgets.
“Every day we hear from families who fall through the gap – but disabled children don’t always fall into neat boxes and a lack of information often prevents children from accessing the equipment they so desperately need.
“This leaves families of disabled children with no alternative but to approach charity’s like Newlife.”
There are now 1.1 million disabled children here in the UK, a 15% increase on the previous year. Demand for the charity’s services is also on the rise, (insert some additional stats here)Newlife has provided urgent equipment to more than 1,000 children in the last five years.
To help children like Leon by making a donation to our Emergency Response Appeal here: www.newlife.support/GiveEEL