Nine-year-old Troy McLean has been through a nightmare two years. He had two deaths in the family, sandwiched between multiple appointments to sort out his cleft palate. On top of that, Troy is autistic and struggles at school. When we heard his story, we knew we had to help.
2020 was a disaster for us all. Many struggled to get through it purely because of Covid-induced stress. Most kids missed out on substantial periods of schooling, seeing their friends and learning how to become themselves.
Troy McLean went through all that and more. Just as he was getting through it, his emotional support dog passed away, followed by the sudden passing of his uncle.
“Losing my brother and his dog was really difficult for Troy,” says his mum Claire. “He has autism and really struggles building relationships with children his own age, so having those two connections was incredibly important for him.
“He’ll spend most of his lunch times with the aide and he hardly ever gets invited to things, which is heart-breaking. He also can’t go to school full time because we can’t get the funding for a teacher aid – the most we can do right now is four hours a day.”
He has also had to go under the knife twice due to his cleft lip and palate.
“Now, he’ll go in for a check-up every six months. The problem is that there’s at least six specialists in the room, who all want to speak to him, and, because of his autism, he finds it so overwhelming. He’s been poked and prodded so much, which is hard to watch.”
Troy also has an array of sensory issues, which restricts his diet and concentration.
“He eats about 10 specific things and they’re all bland” explains Claire. “He’s tried other food but the risk is that he’ll vomit them up if the texture doesn’t agree with him.”
Satan’s Little Helper can’t do much about his diet but we can provide a way for him to have his sensory needs met at school. So, we sent Troy a goody bag packed with stress balls, a wiggle seat, a desk fidget and some chewy toys.
“The gifts help a lot,” says Claire. “It took him a bit to get used to the seat but now it’s very good at helping him avoid meltdowns. It’s useful because the movement it generates gives him something to concentrate on instead of whatever is overwhelming him.
“There’s one ball that has the perfect consistency for him and Troy really loves it. He also enjoys the chew toys as he likes to nibble his fingers while he works, which helps him concentrate.”
One of his care groups has an 18-month plan to help Troy and now has more items that help him feel at ease in his surroundings, it should be plainer sailing as he moves through school and life.