Ned loves the forest – it suits his creative nature. He loves the sounds, the smells, the noises. It’s a special place for this seven year old boy with autism and learning difficulties, which is why our Wild Play Days scheme suits him so well.
Ned’s mum Hattie found out about our playscheme through the local SEND offer, and was surprised to learn that she could receive funding for a couple of days from the local authority to pay for one to one support. Our playworker Jessie Gambell was assigned to Ned and they hit it off straight away.
“We were so lucky to have Jessie – he’s a wonderful person and a huge asset to the staff team,” says Hattie.
So why does Ned love the outdoors so much? “It’s because like so many autistic kids, he is very sensory and creative, and the forest environment is perfect for that,” explains Hattie.
“Ned suffers from extreme anxiety when he is not in a structured environment , so school holidays are horrific for him,” says Hattie. “Ideally he needs structure every day, but it’s impossible to provide that in holiday time, especially when I have my two younger children to look after too,” says Hattie.
Ned’s favourite activities at Wild Play Days were camp building and role play, as they are quite tactile and creative things to do. “He talked a lot about them when he came home at the end of the day, which is a big thing for an autistic child to do,” says Hattie.
But Ned doesn’t fit in with the normal autistic stereotype – he is not really into computers for example – but he loves to draw, swim and play in his favourite parks. He loves museums too, although this can be stressful for him if they are particularly crowded.
“ I was really impressed with the staff on the playscheme and at the Hawker Centre. Nothing was too much trouble and I felt I could trust them to call me if anything was wrong,” says Hattie.
Ned, pictured below in the forest with Jessie, and with his younger sister.