“He was progressing normally like any little boy meeting his developmental milestones. Then at 18 months I can only describe it being as if the lights went out. He would build enormous stacks of bricks over and over again. I looked it up on the internet and read about autism.”
Kim’s husband Mark worked abroad in the construction industry as an engineer for many years and Kim travelled with him. But when her son and youngest daughter had children, she wanted to be home with her grandchildren. So, the couple returned home to Stockton.
Worried about Bailey not speaking, Kim managed to get him a speech and language therapist, “She got the first words out of Bailey but she was sure he had learning difficulties and autism and said we should get him assessed.
“We did and he was diagnosed with autism and a serious learning disability. At first it felt like we were in mourning for the little boy we had lost.”
Kim and Mark offer a lot of support to Bailey to help her daughter Georgina, who as a single parent sometimes needs help and respite. “Mark is wonderful with Bailey, he does lots of activities with him which really brings him on and helps with his learning and development.”
The family already knew about Daisy Chain as Georgina went to school with Lesley Hanson’s daughter, the founder of the charity whose son Jacob was diagnosed with autism at an early age.
“We went along to Daisy Chain and Bailey loves it. He has used the after-school club, holiday activity days and holiday clubs. We could not have coped in the school holidays without the support of Daisy Chain. It’s excellent that you get one-to-one support for Bailey and person becomes a friend.
“It’s also great because it gives mum a break and she needs it. Daisy Chain has been a rock for her. Bailey has been attending for over three years and Georgina attended the courses at Daisy Chain which really helped her understand Bailey and autism. It was also a space where she could feel comfortable, it built her confidence and relieved her anxiety.”
Bailey attends Ash Trees Academy in Billingham, “It has been a fantastic school for Bailey. Even though he can’t speak a lot and struggles with social interaction, he is doing well at the school.
“It can be difficult for Bailey to access mainstream activities. If he does get upset and anxious, people often don’t understand his behaviour so it’s great to have somewhere like Daisy Chain where autism is understood and no-one judges.”
Kim believes that having Bailey in their lives has made them better people, “He’s such a loving and lovely little boy but of course you worry about the future. It’s wonderful to see Daisy Chain developing services for adults, it’s so necessary. Support can’t just stop when they reach 18.”