Seventeen-year-old Deesha has Autism Spectrum Disorder, severe learning difficulties and developmental delay, and has limited verbal communication. She first came to Yippee in 2007 when her family heard about the short breaks disability playscheme from a health visitor.

She now attends Yip4Youth, our Friday evening, weekend and school holiday youth club for young people with disabilities aged 12-18 in Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Reigate and Crawley. During her time at the YMCA, Deesha has developed her communication skills and is now able to verbalise some of her needs. She has made strong relationships with key members of staff.

“Deesha is a very loved and spoiled only child,” says her mother, Reena, with a smile, “and, as a family, we know how to handle her different moods and requirements. The best part of the care that Deesha receives from YMCA’s Children’s Services team is how it is tailored totally to her needs.”

Deesha has one-to-one support at Yip4Youth. Our short break schemes are run by qualified staff, experienced in working with severe and complex needs. They use a person-centred approach which is individual to each child or young person. In 2017-18, we delivered over 26,000 hours of short breaks.“The staff are constantly checking with us to make sure that Deesha is happy and they listen to our suggestions and advice. The communication between parents and staff is brilliant and they give us constant support,” says Reena.

We struggle to manage outings as a family as Deesha’s behaviour can be far more difficult with us than with the YMCA staff. Like any teenager, she loves being busy and really enjoys swimming or going to the park with Yip4Youth. Sometimes I think that she might not cope well with the outing that is planned but she is fine. I can’t remember one time when Deesha hasn’t wanted to go to the YMCA. I know from her body language and her smile how much she loves it.

While her daughter is occupied with Yip4Youth, Reena relishes the peace and quiet in her home.

“Deesha’s behaviour is unpredictable,” explains Reena, “and she can be loud, aggressive or tearful with no warning. She doesn’t understand dangers or consequences and so I need to watch her all the time. No parent is at their best when they feel stressed, irritated and tired.”

“I also have my own health issues, so having a small amount of free time to relax, watch television or do the cleaning, is wonderful. It isn’t ordinary to me – it’s heaven. And, if I feel happy, then I can react in a happy way to Deesha.”

Read more about Yip4Youth