Olivia’s Story

Olivia using her tennis racket as a guitar at Bentham Youth Club.

Olivia is a vibrant 11 year old girl who SELFA have supported for 6 years. Olivia is on the autistic spectrum but also has global developmental delay. Until recently Olivia had a gastrostomy for water, but she still needs help and encouragement for eating and drinking. Olivia is currently toilet-training.

She attended a mainstream primary school but moved to a special needs school when she was due to start secondary school. She receives support in class to ensure her continued learning and development and her education is tailored to her learning needs.

Olivia lives on a farm with her parents and 2 brothers and therefore during school holidays, mum struggles to divide her time equally between the children and get involved in activities due to Olivia’s needs and where they live.

SELFA was approached by the family and immediately offered their support. After an initial home visit, a place for Olivia was offered at holiday club. Mum was worried about how staff would be able to care for Olivia’s needs regarding her autism and specifically her gastrostomy tube. However, SELFA organised specialised training to ensure provision of an inclusive environment for all children.

Olivia attends holiday club at least 1 day a week during the school holidays where she thoroughly enjoys participating in the diverse range of activities on offer and trying new experiences. Olivia particularly enjoys dancing, baking and getting creative in the organised activities.

When Olivia turned 11 she was offered a place at a SELFA Youth club in Bentham. This is close to where she lives to enable children who are rurally isolated to easily access our activities. This group runs fortnightly after school and once a week in the holidays and Olivia attends independently. This enables Olivia to spend time with other children her age and learn transferrable skills such as team building, independence and cooking. She really enjoys coming to this group and mum is confident that her needs are being met and she is having a good time. Thus enabling mum to spend time with her two brothers which improves the family’s wellbeing.

Additionally, Olivia and her family attend our monthly disabled children family trips, such as the Zoo and Stockeld Park. This gives mum opportunities to take all the children on a day out which she would not previously have been able to, it also gives mum time to socialise with other parents and stimulates the children in the holidays and on weekends.

SELFA is unique in the support offered to families like Olivia’s. Without the continued opportunities provided, Olivia’s development would be restricted and there would be increased pressure on the family. SELFA ensures all children have access to experiences which lead to an increase wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. This ensures hope for the future and has a lasting effect on their behaviour and ambitions.

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