A MUM from Nuthall says she is ‘eternally grateful’ for a new scheme that has helped her autistic son integrate into the community.
Sue Brackner said the new befriending scheme for children with disabilities and learning difficulties has saved her family from ‘falling apart’.
Her 14-year-old son Josh is taken out by care worker Simon Mitchell to integrate him into society more and give his family some respite.
Sue said: “They go to the cinema or go bowling or go for walks. It’s getting Josh out and about and getting him doing things that he wouldn’t normally have done.”
She said before the family started using the service, Josh would not like going out anywhere and would end up staying in.
“It’s brought him on no end.
“He wouldn’t even leave the house before. He would go out in the car with me quickly but that would be it. He would not like leaving the end of the road.
“It’s great seeing him get on a tram or a bus. He’s now socialising and coping with real life situations.”
Sue rang the council and asked for help when Josh started refusing to go to school just over a year ago.
“His behaviour had severely deteriorated and he was becoming more challenging to the point that it was putting a huge strain on all of the family,” she said.
The mum-of-four said she was struggling to juggle family life with everybody having such different wants and needs.
“Before I’d struggle to take my five-year-old to the park because Josh wouldn’t want to go. It means we can have more of a normal family life now.
“Without it, our family would have disintegrated,” she said.
Josh is on the autism spectrum which means that he suffers with anxiety, can’t easily cope with noise and finds it very hard to make friends.
The £500,000 Nottinghamshire County Council scheme provides disabled children with a programme of individual care and has benefited 400 youngsters in its first 18 months.
Previously, disabled youngsters or children with learning difficulties who fell short of the threshold for specialised support had to rely on playgroups and activities provided by schools and voluntary groups.
The council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Philip Owen, said: “This scheme is all about increasing the range and number of fun opportunities available to disabled children and young people, making sure they have the same options for activities and social interaction as other children.”
“When we asked youngsters what they wanted, they said they wanted to do the same things as other children. The level of support equates to a similar amount of time children might get to spend time with their friends at scouts or brownies or playing organised sport each week.”
Since January 2011, Josh has been receiving one-to-one schooling.