Jacob is four years old and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder aged one. Jacob struggles with sensory overload making it very difficult for the family to go out on day trips and to events, particularly as he struggles with walking. He finds change very stressful and has a lot of difficulties with sleep: "last night Jacob came into our bed at 10.30pm and kicked us for four hours straight before we could calm him down. My husband and I are constantly exhausted".
Jacob’s mum Laura first heard about Family Fund through Jacob’s Pre-school Inclusion Team. She decided to apply for an iPad. The family had previously bought an iPad for Jacob’s older brother, Zac, to keep him entertained as they are forced to stay in the house a lot which ‘can be really boring for Zac’. Jacob always wanted to use his brother’s iPad so Laura thought that getting him his own could be useful, particularly to help with Jacob’s communication as he was non-verbal.
When Jacob was awarded the iPad, Laura downloaded some educational apps and was amazed by the results. Jacob has an app that teaches him five words starting with each letter of the alphabet.
‘He has memorised all the words (over 100 of them) and he understands them. We went somewhere where there was a fireplace and he pointed at it and said 'Fire. Fire is hot’. We’d never heard him say the word ‘fire’ before but he knew what it meant. It was amazing.’
The iPad also helps with Jacob’s bedtime. Laura finds that letting Jacob watch some videos on the iPad before bed really helps him to relax and sleep more soundly. However, if Jacob does wake up, giving him the iPad for half an hour can help him to ‘focus and calm down’ while giving Laura a bit of time to wake up ready to put Jacob back to bed.
At the moment Jacob is struggling with the changes involved in moving house. ‘He doesn’t want to play with any of his toys but he is constantly wanting the iPad. Even if he isn’t using it he wants it there. It makes him feel safe I think.’
"Without Family Fund we wouldn’t have been able to afford the iPad at all. We use Jacob’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to buy sensory toys and things but we wouldn’t be able to manage an iPad for him, particularly with the strong screen protector and case it comes with. We’re so grateful to Family Fund – the grant has helped us so much."