Charity Registration number: 800248
Unfortunately COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the work carried out by Dreams Come True. Most of the families they support have children and young adults whose conditions make them particularly susceptible to the virus and were sent into an early lockdown. These families living in already difficult conditions are being impacted in ways that many of us could only imagine. Throughout the lockdown, Dreams Come True has continued to work tirelessly to support the families that need them the most. Families just like Ali’s, whose new restrictions meant that he could not visit his school or respite care facilities.
Ali’s autism means that regulating his emotions is a struggle and his behaviour can be challenging and unpredictable. More than anything, going outdoors helps him to feel calm and happy. When he is at school or respite care, Ali often takes himself outside, spending his time walking around clapping and singing. Whilst he enjoys using the equipment outside at school, he would become bored and frustrated in the garden at home, refusing to go out if the weather were damp.
The situation with COVID-19 has been very challenging for Ali and exhausting for his family. Ali struggled with the change to his routine when both school and his respite care were put on hold during the lockdown. If Ali were taken for a walk, he would often get angry when he was unable to go to McDonald’s to eat as he could not understand why it was closed. He was also unaware of the need to social distance, so trips outdoors would be confusing and upsetting for him.
His social worker wrote to Dreams Come True to say: “Having access to this outside space helps Ali – we already know this is an effective strategy to use. It would make a massive difference for Ali and his family if he had access to a similar safe outdoor space at home. As part of his diagnosis Ali over eats and food is a massive trigger for him. Having access to this equipment will also support a healthy active lifestyle for Ali”
Having spoken with Ali’s mum about what furniture he would enjoy best, Dreams Come True bought a bench for Ali to sit and enjoy the garden, just as he does when he is at respite, along with a pavilion shelter so that he can enjoy the garden in all weathers. Ali also loves going on the swing at school and finds the action calming, so a swing was purchased with a canopy. In the build-up to the day of delivery, Ali’s family kept his dream a secret from him. This meant that when he came outside, his transformed garden space was a huge surprise for him. He was thrilled, he flapped his hands with excitement and was grinning from ear to ear, nobody present could fail to be moved.
Ali’s Mum couldn’t thank the team enough. “I just wanted to thank Dreams Come True for everything that they have done. Everyone was so kind and helpful and truly went above and beyond to give my son the best experience they could. Ali has really been enjoying going out in the garden now. The volunteers from Engie were so friendly and helpful. Thank you so much for everything, we truly appreciate it.”