Single mum Rachel lives in Norfolk with her two children, Daniel (14) and Grace (9). Over the last three years, the MCF has helped the family with everyday essentials for the children – from school uniforms to bus fares. But when Grace began to really struggle at school, Rachel wondered if there was a bigger problem that the MCF could help with.
“I first got in touch with the MCF about three years ago. My children’s father suffered from mental health issues and wasn’t contributing to help support them. My dad is a freemason, but it was actually my sister who discovered the MCF online and suggested that I get in touch. Since then they have given me a lot of help.
“Grace has always struggled a bit with school. But when she hit nine everything seemed to escalate. When she had tests at school she’d get really frustrated with herself and would come home crying. PE was also really hard – the noise and the smells would upset her. She’d bottle it all up and take it out on me which was really stressful. She also struggles a bit socially. She hasn’t matured as quickly as her peers so she spends quite a lot of time playing on her own.”
Rachel was referred to her GP for an autism assessment, but was told that the waiting list was two years. She worried about how far Grace could fall behind in this time, but knew that she could never afford to pay for an assessment privately.
“I assumed that the MCF wouldn’t be able to help because of the cost, but I just happened to mention it in passing to my grants officer, Suzanne, and she encouraged me to put forward a request. The application process was very straightforward and the assessment itself was completely fine. It was quite long and I was worried because we were in separate rooms, but she was well looked after and coped really well.”
Now that Grace has been officially diagnosed as having high functioning autism, Rachel can work with the school to ensure that she has a suitable educational healthcare plan in place.
Having the diagnosis has been such a relief! I’m so glad to have done it before she starts secondary school – hopefully I don’t need to worry about her falling behind anymore. To anyone else in a similar situation, I’d say that they should definitely ask for help! I had just assumed that help wasn’t possible, but you really never know until you ask.