Newlife, the charity for disabled children, has come to the rescue of the family of a child who needs 24-hour supervision.
Seven-year-old Dexter Harman, from Uckfield, suffers from severe autism. His development is delayed and he is unable to speak.
He wakes four times a night – sometimes he doesn’t go back to sleep once he has woken – other times he doesn’t sleep at all, staying awake all night.
Dexter, who also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is unable to understand how to keep himself safe.
He doesn’t realise that climbing on top of the fridge while his mum is out of the room is a dangerous thing to do and he can’t comprehend the harm he could do to himself by chewing live electrical wires.
So in order to keep him safe, Dexter’s mum, Helen, would have to ‘sleep’ in the same room as her son so she could keep an eye on him.
The little boy was in desperate need of a specialist bed to keep him safe. That’s where Newlife stepped in. For the past five years it has been running the UK’s first and only emergency loan service, delivering specialist equipment to disabled children in crisis within 72 hours of request.
Dexter’s mum said: “He needs to have someone with him at all times to make sure he is safe. There have been times where he has tried to get out of the window or the front door so leaving him alone isn’t an option especially at night.
“Dexter will seek out enclosed spaces when he is distressed or having a meltdown, so the Safespace bed will allow him to have that sense of security and will allow us to have peace of mind so we can get some rest as well.”
A spokesperson for the charity said that without Newlife’s emergency equipment loan service Dexter would still be at risk, his parents would still be exhausted and the whole family would still be at crisis point.
Sheila Brown, Newlife’s CEO, said: “We’ve proven an emergency equipment service works but, more worryingly, that there’s a desperate need for this type of rapid response for specialist equipment for children.
“We must ensure that no child is in danger because they don’t have the right piece of equipment and are calling on Government and local services to introduce local based emergency equipment services – it really is a matter of life and death for some.”
Newlife this week published a report, Equipment Crisis for Disabled Children, saying youngsters are being deprived of specialist equipment like walking frames, specialist car seats and beds, and offering a practical four-point plan to remedy the situation.