An autism support charity’s new service in Hartlepool is proving a huge boost for a family touched by the condition.
Natalie Wale’s son Lucas, seven, has autism and four-year-old daughter Amelia is currently going through the diagnostic process.
Natalie, 32, says she found the journey to be extremely emotional, but now Norton-based Daisy Chain has expanded its services with a new parent support group in Hartlepool, she said it is making a real difference in her family life.
When Lucas was 18 months old he stopped talking and Natalie had to reduce her working hours to cope with the number of appointments with health care professionals that she needed to attend.
Natalie explained: “When the educational psychologist told me that there was a lot to suggest he was on the autistic spectrum I just burst into tears. I crumbled with the fear of not knowing what was going to happen.
“Lucas is what I would call text book autistic – he babbles, jumps constantly and he is socially often oblivious to other children. Amelia suffers with meltdowns if there is even a little change in routine.”
Since joining the parent support group, Natalie and the whole family have visited the Daisy Chain day centre and farm at Norton for a number of activity days.
She said: “It’s an amazing place, the kids really love it, playing with the diggers in the sand or doing arts and crafts. I can take Lucas into the sensory room if he needs some time to be calm, you don’t have all that in mainstream environments.”
The Hartlepool Links parent support group is funded by NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group which allocates funds to the Health Initiatives Programme run by Catalyst, Stockton’s Voluntary Development Agency. Meetings are every Monday from 10am to noon at West View Resource Centre in Miers Avenue.