DEDICATED volunteers and selfless community groups have helped an autistic seven-year-old to clap, wave and talk again.
Until he was three-and-a-half Jack Armstrong, of Top Road, Kingsley, enjoyed playing with his toys, running in the garden and making friends in the playground at school.
But soon after a family holiday Jack became withdrawn, stopped talking and retreated into his own world fiddling with wires around the house and refusing to play with his toys, or make eye contact with his friends or family.
In 2008 doctors diagnosed Jack with autism, a moment that left his parents Natalie and Mark heartbroken and destroyed, as they were told that ‘nothing could be done’ and their bubbly little boy had changed forever.
Now, one year after Jack was taken out of Rosebank Special School, Barnton, to be taught at home using a unique play therapy, Son-Rise from America, for the first time he has started to point, wave and speak again.
Natalie, 36, is helped everyday by a team of nine dedicated female volunteers who take one-on-one two hour shifts with Jack encouraging him to point and ask for food, drink and toys.
“At first he wouldn’t even move his arms, we just had to guess what he wanted, now he can point, words are coming along and we are even getting a few short sentences.
“We are showing him everything all over again that he could do before. It is that bit that people don’t understand, a mother knows their own child and I know what he can do.”
After years of extensive fundraising by the community, in February the family travelled to America for a week for Jack to take part in an extensive therapy programme with specialists.
The trip cost £18,000 every penny of which was raised and donated by villagers and groups in Kingsley, Frodsham and Helsby, and donated via Jack’s website and Facebook page.
“He was only three and a half when he regressed and I will get him back. I remember him playing and interacting with me, he knew what was going on, he even knew that I was pregnant with George,” said the mother-of-two who was pregnant with George, now five, when Jack first regressed.
“I have to keep going, my son needs me. I will get him back, whatever happened to my son I will bring him back to us.”
Jack and his team will be raising money at a sponsored bag pack at Sainsbury’s in Cheshire Oaks this weekend (August 6-7).
To join Jack’s team by dedicating just four hours a week, or to raise money for training for volunteers visit www.joiningjacksteam.co.uk or call Natalie on 01928 788 246.