Zach Burnside with his mum SarahLittle Zach Burnside’s face lights up when he hears Daisy Chain mentioned, for it’s one of his most favourite places.

So, mum Sarah decided to help raise funds for Daisy Chain by taking part in the charity’s fundraising campaign to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary year – The Big Picnic.

Having friends over for a garden picnic raised £150 and Sarah says, “Zach really loves Daisy Chain, his whole face lights up when he hears it mentioned and he is so excited when we pull into the car park. He loves the outdoor spaces, the toys, especially the trains and cooking.

“Zach feels very safe and comfortable on the farm, it brings out the best in him because he is so much less anxious when he visits. You can really see the difference in him between visiting Daisy Chain and somewhere mainstream.”

Now four, Zach was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was just two-and-a-half years old. Having a now adult brother with severe autism alerted Sarah to the signs. “I had my suspicions from an early age with Zach when his words did not come, the communication development just wasn’t there. He didn’t respond to his name. His nursery also raised concerns, they thought it might be his hearing but I already thought it could be autism.”

Sarah made an appointment with her GP and was referred for further tests. Within a year Zach was diagnosed with ASD. Sarah says, “My mum had not mentioned anything about Zach until I brought it up and she told me she could see it as well. I guess I always knew it was a possibility with autism in the family.”

As a teaching assistant in Middlesbrough’s Beverley School for children and young people with autism, Sarah was already aware of Daisy Chain when Zach was diagnosed. “I realised we should go and give it a try - we did and Zach loved it straight away,” she smiles. “I am glad we did make the effort to take Zach to Daisy Chain. He loves the activity days and trips.

“It’s also good to talk to other parents at the activity days - it was there I found out about the short breaks grant that I could use to help pay for services at Daisy Chain. It’s excellent to be able to find out all kinds of information from other parents who have been there and gone through it. That advice and guidance from parents and from the staff is invaluable.”

“We are very lucky to have a Daisy Chain in our area – not everyone has access to that support, help and such a lovely place to be able to go with your child and enjoy the facilities in a safe and comfortable environment. It’s why I decided to try and give something back and hold a Big Picnic to raise a little funding.”

3rd July 2018