Bubble wall & Bike trailer
Zac, from Long Eaton, who his mum describes as “a very affectionate, mischievous little boy who is always smiling” was diagnosed with Autism and Global Development Delay (GDD) just before his third birthday.
Since starting school, Zac has also been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a condition that affects how your brain processes sensory information, and often means you’re overly sensitive to stimuli that other people are not. He’s also non-verbal.
His mum, Chrissie Render, says:
“Because he’s non-verbal Zac can find it difficult to communicate, which frustrates him. He also struggles with changes to his routine or anything that’s unfamiliar, which can result in outbursts so his behaviour can be challenging at times.
“Zac’s older sister, Lottie, is only seven and doesn’t really understand why he acts out. So trying to keep everyone happy can be hard work.
“We first discovered the calming effect of a bubble wall on a holiday in Tenerife a few years ago. He was absolutely mesmerised by a wall of bubble tubes in a restaurant. It had such a soothing effect on him.”
Bubble tubes and bubble walls have been found to help those affected by Autism who have difficulty with sensory processing and struggle to tune out unnecessary sensory input. With its bright light source, sound of the bubbles, or even the feel of gentle vibrations, a bubble tube or wall can help to provide focus and offers a soothing effect.
“When the bubble wall arrived Zac was beside himself with excitement. He was jumping up and down!
“Although he has recently started to use some words, he’s usually non-verbal, but when we connected the equipment he instantly started shouting out the different colours as they changed – “blue, red, green!” I couldn’t believe it, as Zac normally relies on PEC cards – picture cards that show items and feelings – to communicate.
“It was so emotional seeing how much he loved it. Now that the initial excitement has worn off, it’s definitely has the desired calming effect we’d hoped for.”
“Zac struggles to sleep and will often wake up multiple times through the night. Now, when he gets up he usually gazes at his bubble wall instead of watching TV or playing, and it helps to settle him.”
Chrissie reached out to us again in 2022, for support towards a trailer bike. Zac is unable to pedal a regular bike, due to his condition, but the family have always loved cycling and wanted Zac to be able to join in.
“I love cycling and Zac’s older sister, Lottie, has always enjoyed going for bike rides and I really wanted Zac to be able to join us and do something together as a family that we can all enjoy. So, I started looking into bike trailers and tag-alongs.
“Having the bike-trailer is just brilliant. As soon as it arrived, we had a practice on the street then ventured out for a few more miles to the park, to grandma and grandad’s and back home again. It was an immediate hit with Zac, even if he wasn’t keen on wearing the helmet!
“Zac loves the outdoors but he has no danger awareness, and on this he’s completely secure which gives me peace of mind. He also loves speed so he’s very happy being ridden along.”
The trailer bike will last until Zac’s is about 12-years-old and as it has pedals it will allow him to practise pedalling. Chrissie hopes that in time Zac will learn how to use them and be able to cycle independently.
“It’s so nice to be able to go to places without relying on the car. We’ve had lots of trips to the park and picnics with friends and family. We were virtually out on it every day over the summer holidays.
“It’s just what we needed – to be out and about doing the things we can all enjoy as a family together!”
Watch Chrissie’s interview below with BBC East Midlands Tonight to see for yourself how Zac’s bubble wall has helped both him and his family.