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Charlie attends the Kids Strut Afterschool Club which enables him to socialise with other children as well as take part in fun activities whilst giving his parents some respite. His mum writes about how the service has improved the quality of their family life and made a positive impact on Charlie.
Charlie, like many children with additional needs, suffers from extreme anxiety and this impacts hugely on all aspects of his life, making eating and sleeping difficult and exacerbating his existing conditions (ADHD, OCD and Tourettes). All medical professionals agree that the most effective way of positively impacting on these issues is through physical activity. This sounds like a simple solution, but finding sports clubs for a teenager with autism who struggles socially and needs far more supervision and support than a regular teenager is incredibly difficult. The second issue, once an activity had been found, is then encouraging a child with anxiety to attend and get involved.
Before Kids, Charlie didn’t have anywhere he could go and take part in these kinds of activities. As a result he was lonely, regularly displayed frustration and challenging behaviour, and was often on edge and anxious. Life was extremely difficult, both for Charlie and for our family.
Then we found Kids and everything changed. Charlie started attending the after school club and activity days and was finally able to use up some of his energy and have fun with other young people.
The staff at Kids took the time to get to know Charlie – they are experienced at working with children with complex needs and it shows. They have built a relationship with Charlie, which has kept his anxiety levels in check and ensured any potential challenges can be quickly identified and managed effectively.
They have supported him to regularly take part in activities like archery, football and abseiling, which he has absolutely loved. By having a one-to-one keyworker, Charlie has been supported by Kids to engage in so many activities of his choosing, encouraging him to try new things and keeping him safe while he does so. These are things he has never had the chance to do before.
Since coming to Kids, the difference it has made to Charlie has been phenomenal.
He is calmer, happier and more sociable. He has a much better sleep routine due to using up some of his excess energy and he is generally less on edge, which in turn has helped to improve his behaviour both at home and at school. He has fewer melt downs and more happy moments. He has made friends who don’t judge him for being different. It has had a positive impact on all areas of his life.
The impact on our family life has been significant too. Caring for a disabled child can be relentless, unpredictable, challenging and for long periods of time may hover somewhere between unrewarding and soul-destroying.
Kids has not only helped us by making Charlie happier and in turn improving our family dynamic at home, but they also offer us respite when Charlie is with them. During those times we can rest or give our other children some undivided attention which they really benefit from.