But then Carolynn visited Daisy Chain, “After being shown around and talking to staff, I called Geoff and told him that this was the place that was going to help us. I knew then that we were not on our own. We went along to our first activity day and it was lovely. There was no-one staring at us, no-one judging Liam and we got to meet other parents to talk to.”

Geoff adds, “We fitted in instantly, it was a real break for us to meet other parents and to not worry about Liam or his behaviour as everyone understood. You know you are all in the same boat.”

Over the years, the couple have been endlessly grateful to Daisy Chain and both volunteer in the Superstore one day every week as they are determined to give something back. Geoff is now retired from his job as a sales manager with an engineering company while Carolynn now works two mornings a week in an accounts role.

Liam, now 10, was diagnosed just before he was five years old. The couple knew there were issues when Liam’s speech was delayed and he didn’t walk until after he reached two.

Carolynn explains, “When Liam was diagnosed we asked what do we do now? The paediatrician said there was nothing medical that could be done and gave us the number for Daisy Chain. It’s frightening when you get dealt this life changing news and you have no idea what to do. I don’t know what we would have done without Daisy Chain.”

The monthly Wednesday evening Links parent support group proved a lifeline as both worked and couldn’t attend the weekly meeting held on a Thursday morning. “I got so much advice and support through that and made some really good friends that I could not survive now without,” says Carolynn. “There are times when it is only those people who understand what you are going through.”

Liam enjoys activities at Daisy Chain and the holiday club – his favourite is gardening – he can often be found outdoors with volunteer Richard doing a spot of gardening and feeding the animals.

“Richard is fantastic with him. Liam is still not verbal though he is getting better but the two of them seem to chatter away and manage to communicate,” Carolynn smiles.

Geoff adds, “Now when we are sat having lunch, Liam can go and get his own drink from the counter in soft play. He wouldn’t do that anywhere else which shows how his confidence has grown at Daisy Chain.”

When the Superstore opened Carolynn was determined to volunteer and Geoff joined her soon after. “This is a bit of respite for us. We enjoy helping the Daisy Chain employability students in the sorting area. We hope that one day Liam might be able to come and help out,” says Carolynn.

Geoff says, “We talk to lots of people who visit the store. They seem as though they have come in for a look round but they are looking to find out what support Daisy Chain offers and we direct them to the Farm. It’s good because we understand what they are feeling. One couple came in straight after having their child diagnosed by the paediatrician, they looked shell shocked. I was able to chat to them and we have since seen them at the Farm with the children.”

Carolynn agrees, “People come into the store and they look like we looked when we first found out. They want answers and ways to make things better. It’s fantastic that there is somewhere like Daisy Chain that we can direct people to. Liam is a gorgeous little boy but very sensitive and he can get very anxious, so it is really important to have somewhere to go that is a safe environment where he can feel confident.

“If Daisy Chain didn’t exist we would have survived but it would have been so much harder. Knowing Daisy Chain is there and there are people who understand your needs and can support you is very comforting. It’s a huge part of our lives and I can see how far we have come thanks to Daisy Chain.”

23rd March 2018

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