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Award and thanks for autism helper

PUBLISHED: 21:51 28 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:10 03 March 2010

WHEN autistic Euan Low started playgroup his life was transformed by his one to one assistant.

Now that assistant, Donna Chenery, has become one of the Low family - and has won an award for her tireless work with the youngster.

By JESSICA NICHOLLS

jessica.nicholls@eveningstar.co.uk

WHEN autistic Euan Low started playgroup his life was transformed by his one-to-one assistant.

Now that assistant, Donna Chenery, has become one of the Low family – and has won an award for her tireless work with the youngster.

Euan was three years old when he started Bramford pre-school. He could only speak a few words and had behavioural problems.

Now, two years on, he is managing to speak in sentences and has been at mainstream school since September.

Euan's mum Melanie, from Bullen Lane, Bramford, was so thankful for the work that Donna put in with her son, that she and her close friend Jo Linford-Wood, who is also a mother of an autistic child, nominated her for the Special Play Worker Award.

It was set up by the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership, made up of Suffolk Acre and Suffolk County Council.

Melanie said: "When Euan started the playgroup he had Donna as his one-to-one straight away. She helped him get into mainstream school.

"It was fantastic, we never expected him to go to mainstream school but Donna pushed for it and he got in.

"Also if it was not for the help of Paula Cook and Karen Briggs who put so much effort into helping Euan join the playgroup, he would not be where he is today."

Even though Donna had never worked with autistic children she threw heart and soul into her role with Euan, going as far as taking him back to her house at lunchtimes and after school and attending speech therapy sessions with him in the summer

holidays.

Donna said: "We always say that he is like our extended family. He loves coming here because I have three teenagers and my eldest daughter often babysits for him.

"He is very sociable and is such a loving little boy."

Until Euan's arrival, Donna from Angel Road, Bramford, had been a playgroup assistant and leader for seven years.

"It was all a bit trial and error when he first came," she said. "I really knew very little about autism, so it has been a process of learning as we go through.

"But we just gelled, it is a two-way thing."

Donna has even gone with Euan to Bramford Primary School to help him through the school day.

Euan was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half, but Melanie and husband, Colin, knew something was wrong for a good few months before.

Melanie, 31, said: "He had lost his speech and was just not communicating. He was in a world of his own. He had mobility problems and did not crawl or walk at all."

When he went to playgroup and met up with Donna, she started working with him on longer sessions.

Now he can drink from a cup, sit still for snack time, pedal a bike and concentrate on activities – something that autistic children find very hard to do.

WEBLINKS

www.suffolkacre.org.uk

www.suffolkcc.gov.uk

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