COVENTRY citizens are being urged to dig deep to help fund a specialist bed to keep a disabled eight-year-old city boy safe at night.
Franco Astolfi, from the Finham area of the city, has complex needs, including severe autism which causes him to bang his head up to 700 times in 24 hours.
While he wears a helmet to protect him from injury during the day, his parents say he needs a specialist bed to keep him safe at night.
But with a £6,575 price-tag, Franco’s mum Faye and step-dad Rob turned to The Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help.
Franco was just nine months old when doctors spotted that he had difficulties – and was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months.
He also has learning difficulties and severe Sensory Processing Disorder, which causes him to find the world around him quite overwhelming.
And being unable to speak, when Franco has difficulty falling and remaining asleep he will resort to banging his head to try communicate.
Mum Faye said: “He’s too big for me to handle now so Rob has had to give up work to become Franco’s full-time carer.
“There isn’t just one trigger, Franco does it for sensory reasons, because he can’t communicate, because he is angry; but it could be because we give him the wrong type of biscuit.
“He wears a helmet, but this isn’t enough, he needs somewhere to go to protect him as he will head-butt walls and floors.
“I am worried he will do serious damage to his head and body, especially as he is getting older and bigger.”
“We have an alarm under Franco’s mattress so we know when he gets up as he will wander the house and climb and he likes to hit his head off hard surfaces.
“My fear is that I will come downstairs one day and find he has jumped off the kitchen counter and is lying on the floor.”
The Newlife Foundation has now launched a campaign to help fund the cost of a SafeSpace.
Described as a ‘room within a room’, the bed has high, flexible sides and sensory equipment to help keep Franco safe and hopefully help him fall asleep.
“Franco already feels like his bedroom is a safe place and it has lots of soft cushions and sensory lighting, but he still smashes his head on the corners, walls and floors of his room,” Faye added.
“If Franco head-butts in a SafeSpace he can’t do himself any damage.
“His safety is the main thing, but having a SafeSpace would also mean we could all get more sleep.”
Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands and click on the ‘donate’ button next to Franco’s story.
Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team by emailimg email@example.com or by calling 01543 431 444.
Support community journalism by making a contribution
The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source of news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.
Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.
Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.