Trowbridge boy gets gift of communication

Andy and Donna Cooper with son Jaxon, who is six today, and his big brother, Bailey

Andy and Donna Cooper with son Jaxon, who is six today, and his big brother, Bailey

First published in Give us a Chance Appeal by , Senior reporter for Trowbridge

Mum Donna Cooper says she will be forever grateful to children’s charity Stepping Stones for the help and support it gave her son Jaxon, who has severe autism and epilepsy.

Mrs Cooper, who lives in Broadmead, Trowbridge, with husband Andy and Jaxon’s older brother, Bailey, 10, said the youngster was referred to Stepping Stones in 2010 by a speech and language therapist.

Jaxon, six today, attended the specialist centre – which helps west Wiltshire children with learning difficulties and disabilities – for two years and improved greatly during that time.

He is now in his second year at Larkrise Special School in Trowbridge and Mrs Cooper believes that, without the help of Stepping Stones, things could have been a lot different.

Mrs Cooper said: “The staff at Stepping Stones are truly amazing and Jaxon had so much help and really came on in his time there.

“He is non-verbal and uses the Picture Exchange Communication System, which is a way of communicating using pictures.

“He was introduced to this by Stepping Stones and it made such a huge difference to his and our lives. At first, he was quite unsettled, as it was new to him. Gradually we started noticing that his eye contact was improving and the use of PECS to communicate was a major step for us.

“We absolutely love Stepping Stones, as they are so supportive. When we found out he had autism we didn’t really know what to do, but they were there for Jaxon and for us as parents.”

In February, Stepping Stones lost £10,000 of funding from Wiltshire Council, after the Government withdrew its Aiming High For Disabled Children grants.

The Wiltshire Times started the Give Us a Chance campaign to help make up the shortfall and in March it reached the £10,000 target. The Times is continuing the appeal for the charity, which needs to raise £50,000 a year, with the tally currently standing at £13,151.

l A family roller disco night will take place at Trowbridge Sports Centre on June 21, from 5.30pm to 8pm, with a donation going to Stepping Stones. For more details, call on 07919 622988.

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