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HANGING IN THERE

Tara Highnam has experienced more challenges than anyone her age should but has emerged from them in a happier place.

School can be a mixed bag for a lot of kids, but Tara’s mum Ash Highnam says few are forced to suffer it like her daughter. “Towards the end of her time in mainstream school, Tara was having a really tough time. Even though she’s got developmental delays, she was put in her age-appropriate year group, so she fell way behind on her studies. To make things worse, she was the target of sustained bullying, which triggered some heartbreaking anxiety attacks.” In addition to the bullying, the school environment contributed to her problems. “The noise in the classroom would cause a sensory overload and there was lots of changes that disputed her routine. She used to run away from school – one afternoon we found her hiding under her grandparent’s bed.” Ash says Tara lost a lot of weight and developed heart issues caused by stress and anxiety. Then Covid struck. “She was already in a bad place because of school, but then Covid hit and her mental health deteriorated. She doesn’t understand the concept of self-harm, but her behaviour indicated she was trying to hurt herself, because she’d do stuff like run into the middle of the road at night.” Tara is now being home-schooled and is doing much better. “The stress from the mornings has gone, which is great because it used to be a massive fight to get her to school every day.” To help reduce her stress, Satan’s Little Helper sent her a sensory hammock to provide a safe space when things get a bit much. “She hasn’t left the swing since it arrived! She even tried to sleep it in the other night. She’s a sensory seeker, so the rocking of the swing helps calm her, allows her to decompress and alleviates the conditions that lead to volatile meltdowns. The house is a lot calmer as a result!” Tara even has a tray that lets her do her schoolwork in the hammock – something that Ash says helps her concentrate for longer. Ash plans to take things one day at a time and she provides Tara with a fun, stimulating and relaxing childhood. With the swing front and centre of that, she has a powerful new ally.

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