This week, we want to help a single mum called Emma from Peterborough, and her 9 year old daughter Olivia, who has autism.
Olivia is facing a lot of challenges. Her sensory issues are so great that she hasn’t been able to eat or drink anything for nearly three years. For two years she had a tube in her nose that fed into her stomach. It had to be removed and reinstated every four weeks, which was incredibly distressing for her. On Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, the tube change went wrong and Olivia struggled to breath. The memory of this still affects her. Olivia now has a tube that goes directly into her stomach, which has been better for her as it doesn’t need to be changed and isn’t as visible - having a tube on her face had been significantly affecting her self esteem.
Olivia’s mum, Emma, is her full-time carer. She was living in private rented accommodation, but couldn’t afford to stay so her and Olivia were on the verge of being made homeless. Fortunately, they were allocated a council house and moved in last week. For a child with Olivia’s needs, moving house is a very traumatic experience. She finds change incredibly distressing. When they arrived at their new house, they discovered it had no carpet, no cooker and filthy floors - Emma has spent days on her hands and knees trying to get it clean. The previous tenant also didn’t clean up after their dog, so the garden was absolutely covered in dog mess, meaning Olivia hasn't been able to go outside to use her sensory equipment.
Emma’s old house was very much centred around Olivia. She had a little school area where she home-educated her, it was decorated in Olivia’s favourite colours and Emma had factored Olivia’s sensory needs into every aspect of the house. Starting all over again, with little money and no help from anyone, is not going to be easy.
The professionals I’ve spoken to who have worked with Emma and Olivia said they are very much a family deserving of help. Olivia isn’t receiving the support Emma feels she needs, and getting more support has been an on-going battle - they have been passed around the system and Olivia is suffering as a result.
Olivia is a very sad and angry little girl at the moment and is finding it hard to deal with all the emotions she is experiencing. Emma is trying to do everything on her own and is desperate to get more help for her.
We want to help make life a little bit easier for both of them, and help Emma feel supported.