A MOTHER says her autistic five-year-old son’s life has been transformed after a charity helped create a calming sensory area in the family home.
Lennie McLean was diagnosed with autism at the age of three with episodes of anxiety triggered by sensory overload.
But his mother Louise McLean says she has noticed a difference since creating the sensory area at the family home in Sacriston, near Chester-le-Street with equipment provided by national charity Caudwell Children.
The condition has left Lennie struggling to communicate with other children and he has difficulties processing senses such as sight, sound and touch.
Miss McLean, 39, said: “Although Lennie is verbal he often struggles to interact with others.
“He also has no sense of danger and sometimes, at home, he can become aggressive because of sensory overload.
“He can have meltdowns in public spaces and to the untrained eye it may look as if he’s misbehaving.
“But the truth is that he’s affected by too much sensory stimulation.
“It could be triggered by a number of things such as the volume or type of noise he hears, a specific smell, the touch of something or even a bright colour.”
Thanks to Caudwell Children, who provide practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, Lennie, can now relax in his own ‘sensory area’.
Miss McLean said: “He absolutely loves it, especially the bubble light tube and the fibre optic lights.
“It’s really starting to calm him down and he looks forward to getting home to play with it.”
She added: “This equipment doesn’t come cheap and the sensory pack that the charity identified came in at £1,327, which is beyond the means of many families.
“The support of Caudwell Children has been vital for Lennie, and the calming effects of the equipment have been fantastic.
“He absolutely adores playing with the LED lights and he even sleeps with the sensory lights on.
“The projector also runs throughout the night and it even helps him to get dressed quickly in the morning.”
Miss McLean said the specialist equipment has also had an unexpected impact on their relationship.
As she explained: “Lennie sometimes likes to play on his iPad with the volume up really loud.
“This sometimes led to friction between us when I asked him to turn it down, but now he likes to chill with his iPad in his bedroom with the sensory lights on.
“Because of this there is less conflict between us and there is a much better atmosphere in the house.”
Caudwell Children chief executive Trudi Beswick said: “This equipment can’t be secured through statutory funding so it’s really important that Caudwell Children continues to fill this gap in provision.
“Each feature in the light sensory pack has been designed to engage and calm children with sensory challenges.
“Hopefully, it will distract Lennie from some of his frustrations and may enable him and his family to relax together.”