05 Mar Family can picture a brighter future now
THE family of a seven-year-old cancer patient are hoping support from The Chronicle’s Sunshine Fund will give him a better chance in life.
Not only was Harrison Mooney, of Blyth, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July 2013, but the youngster was found to have autism in 2010 and last November ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) was added to the list.
It made life challenging for mum Fiona, 37, dad Gareth, 35, and brother Declan, 13, who have grown used to Harrison’s “meltdowns”.
But now, thanks to fundraising from Northumbrian Water, the Sunshine Fund – which provides specialist equipment to children with disabilities in the North East – has brought hope to the family by providing PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) resources. Fiona, who is a part-time office worker at an electrical contractor, said: “When Harrison turned one we knew there was a problem and by 14 months we were pretty certain he had some kind of autism.
“Every day is a struggle for him living with autism and ADHD, as well as cancer. He gets frustrated because he cannot communicate properly and then has meltdowns.
“It is absolutely devastating.”
Harrison is a pupil at Northumberland Church of England Academy’s Josephine Butler campus in Ashington, which caters for youngsters with special educational needs, and also suffers from sensory problems and a lack of danger awareness.
In November, the Mooney family appealed to the Sunshine Fund for the PECS equipment, worth £408, which includes an interactive scheduling board detailing exactly what Harrison will be doing during each day and a system in which the youngster can used pictures to tell his parents what he wants to say and is feeling.
Fiona, who already had a basic PECS book in the house, said: “It is early days but the equipment definitely seems to be helping – there are signs of him being calmer.
“If it wasn’t for charities like the Sunshine Fund offering help then we would feel completely alone and desperate. More people need to know about them.
“Harrison will complete his chemotherapy next year but thankfully he is totally oblivious to the cancer side of things due to his other conditions. The hospital visits are just part of his routine, but for us as parents it is horrible.”
Last month, Harrison and his family were visited by Northumbrian water account manager Sarah Harrison.
Caroll Pattison, Sunshine Fund director, said: “Thank you so much to Sarah and her colleagues at Northumbrian Water for donating and raising money for Harrison’s equipment.
“It was great to see the equipment, which includes lots of picture cards, is helping Harrison tell his family what he is feeling and what he wants.
“He is a gorgeous little boy who gets frustrated at not being able to explain what he wants but through this equipment and the patience of his family hopefully life will become a bit easier.”
She added: “As a charity we totally rely on companies like Northumbrian Water, local people and Chronicle readers to fundraise and donate so we can supply specialist equipment to many deserving families in the North East.”