A DOTING dad will take to the skies to raise awareness of autism after his three-year-old son made great progress coping with the condition.
Little Harvey Davison was diagnosed with autism in September last year.
The youngster found it difficult to communicate and his parents Darren Davison and Leanne Jackson initially found it hard to get their son to engage with others.
But just a year on, thanks to hard work and internet research by the couple, Harvey has started mainstream nursery and is learning to interact through sign language.
Now Darren, from Crawlaw Road, in Easington Colliery, is preparing to tackle a zip-wire 120ft from the top of Gateshead’s Baltic gallery and then 780ft across the River Tyne to raise money for Norton-based autism charity Daisy Chain, and to raise awareness of the condition.
Darren, a former doorman and ex-Network Rail security worker, heard about Daisy Chain through a specialist who works with Harvey.
The 38-year-old, who has already raised around £800 in sponsorship, said: “Harvey’s only three and can’t really talk because of the autism.
“It’s affected mine and my partner’s lives dramatically so I would like to do something about it to raise awareness, it’s my way of contributing.
“Harvey has difficulty with social communication and we don’t really go out much because it. “But he watches Mr Tumble on the TV, and is learning to sign. “He is coming on leaps and bounds but still has a long way to go.”
Leanne, who is also mum to nine-year-old Lewis Davison, who suffers from dyspraxia, which can affect learning, said: “When we first suspected Harvey had autism, he was a totally different boy to what he is now.
“Within a year he has changed quite a lot. “He was socially detached and wouldn’t leave the house.”
Leanne said Harvey, who attends Rosemary Lane Nursery, in Easington Village, where he has a one-to-one worker and can play with his three-year-old cousin Alex Hawkes, would watch cars out of the window and not respond to his parents.
But once the couple realised Harvey liked cars, they introduced toy cars to grab his attention.
She added: “Nobody can believe how he has improved.
“Myself and Darren have put in a lot of hard work with him. “When we first took him to see a specialist, they thought he was more severely autistic than mild.
“But once we knew he had autism, we put strategies, like the toy cars, in place and his first word was ‘car’.”
“It’s about different strategies and learning to cope - we know there’s a future for Harvey.”
Darren’s zip-wire event takes place at 9am on Sunday, October 2.
Anyone wishing to sponsor him can call him on 07879 350430.