YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Daniel and James

“Going back a couple of years, it felt like we were sinking,” admits Jane, mother to 9-year-old Daniel* and 7-year-old James*. 

Her husband, John, agrees: “It isn’t an exaggeration to say that we were not enjoying life.”

Both boys have complex special needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Global Developmental Delay. Daniel has also been diagnosed with a chromosomal deletion. The brothers were adopted by the couple at a young age.

“Every day was an enormous challenge,” says Jane. “When the boys were young, James would either be laughing or screaming and Daniel had so much uncontrollable energy that he just ran in circles. We love them but we were at the end of our tether.”

The couple heard about our Yippee playscheme through friends at church. Daniel and James have now been attending the Y-Kids After School Club and our Saturday and school holiday Yippee short break provision for two years.

Before Yippee, Jane and John found weekends a struggle. The boys are on the go from the moment they wake up. Their unregulated behaviour makes it very difficult for the family to do things together – often Jane and John split up and look after one of the boys each. They are regularly in the park at 7 o’clock in the morning.

“Yippee was heaven-sent,” says Jane. “It feels like one big family and the staff know the boys so well now. We used to feel guilty that we needed this help but we just couldn’t keep up with the pace.”

“When we pick Daniel and James up from Yippee, the joy on their faces is a pleasure to see and they are calm and tired. It’s given them the opportunity to make good, solid friendships and John and I the chance to have a couple of hours together.”

Jane and John find comfort in the solidarity and support between the Yippee parents.

“The boys attend a mainstream school but I feel very different to the other parents there, even though they are all friendly,” explains Jane. “At Yippee, there is a true sense of belonging.”

John sums up their feelings with heart-felt sincerity:

“’Devastated’ is a word which people use very easily but we would be truly devastated not to have this service available for Daniel and James. Our lives were an ordeal that was weakening us, day by day. Yippee saved us.”

*Names have been changed to protect identity for personal reasons

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