6-year-old, Arleigh Brolly, is set to take part in the Junior and Mini Great North Run on Saturday 10 September with her younger brother, Nye, who was diagnosed with autism in October last year.
The siblings are running to raise money to buy specialist sensory toys for Busy Bees, which is a Speech and Language Therapy programme for non-verbal children.
After speaking to Arleigh and Nye’s mother, Lauren, about Nye’s diagnosis she told us, “Nye is on the severe side of each of the main attributes of autism, the most prominent being his communication skills, he is completely nonverbal.
“Nye was given the fantastic opportunity earlier this year to attend Busy Bees – an early intervention therapy playgroup for non-verbal children on the autism spectrum.
“Twice a year a small group of children based on clinical need are invited along to partake in weekly sessions where they are observed while they play for around 12 weeks. At the end of the course a recommendation will be made as to which pathway to put them on to increase their communication skills.”
Arleigh and Nye are running for Busy Bees, “to say thank you for the wonderful work they do. Whilst the programme is fully funded to run by the NHS and Newcastle City Council, they were in need of specialist sensory toys and equipment so they are running to hopefully make that happen for future children to use and enjoy.
“It’s a privilege to run this iconic North East event for a cause supported by the Great North Children’s hospital and Newcastle Council.”
Arleigh has adapted really well to having a sibling with additional needs. Lauren tells us that “siblings are the unsung heroes of the additional needs world and need to be shown the recognition they deserve.”
Speaking about her brother Nye, Arleigh told us “I really love my brother but sometimes it’s hard for me when he gets frustrated and pulls my hair, but that’s not very often. He loves trains and I think that’s really nice and sometimes, if he wants me too, I play trains with him.”
Lauren spoke on the importance of unity, saying “running as a family is a way of showing Nye, Arleigh and the community that we are fully accepting and understanding of not only Nye’s needs but those of other children who have additional needs and their carers too.
“We couldn’t ensure Nye’s needs are met without addressing those of ourselves and his sisters too, but that is only possible with the unity and support shown by family and friends.”
Representation of autism can only help. When asked about potential future progression, Lauren mentions, “I would love to see easier and faster routes for children receiving diagnosis or more support during the wait for diagnosis.
“It took just over two years from first flagging my concerns to being seen by a paediatrician – and that’s actually fast.
“Many families wait two years to be seen and then it’s a long (sometimes over a year) assessment process. In the meantime, children and their families continue to struggle and feel misunderstood personally, socially and developmentally.
“My overall message is for parents to trust their instincts, don’t be afraid to express your concerns, you know your child best.”
Arleigh and Nye will run together on Saturday 10 September around Newcastle Gateshead Quayside for the Junior and Mini Great North Run.
It’s part of a fantastic weekend of sport in Newcastle, seeing thousands of people running in aid of fun, fitness and fundraising.
To support their Just Giving Page, click here.
For more information about the event, visit: greatrun.org/JMNorth