3rd Floor Ulysses House, Foley Street, Dublin 1
info@varietyireland.org

A Bed For Bella

Helping sick, disadvantaged and children with special needs since 1951.

A Bed For Bella

Safety Sleeper – Bella (Age 3)
“What do you feel when you tuck your Children in at night? Contentment? Joy? Even relief that you might get five minutes peace finally?
Your child’s bed should be a safe space, somewhere for them to relax and sleep soundly while you’re safe in the knowledge that they will come to no harm.
That’s how it was supposed to be anyway.
Meet Bella. She’s almost four years old and has autism, severe global developmental delay, hypermobility and low muscle tone.
All of this means that Bella can’t walk or stand or talk. She can’t understand what we say and her comprehension is that of a ten month old.
Just to make things even more complicated, Bella is very very tall for her age!
Bella has never slept through the night, she usually wakes for around two hours anytime between 1am and 4am and happily jumps around her bed laughing to herself and doing one of her favourite activities, which leads me to our next problem……
Bella likes chewing wood, this may seem like a bizarre quirk but it soon became a huge problem for us.

It started with the windowsills, then the TV stand, the skirting boards were next and then her cot.
We tried everything to get her to stop, we covered her cot in bed sheets but she just chewed through them. We tried wrapped netting around the bars but nothing deterred her. This was a serious choking hazard, not to mention the risk of splinters in her mouth or even worse, swallowing splinters.
It didn’t end there either, Bella started jumping up and down on her knees (she has no strength in her legs from the knee down but her thighs are super strong and she gets around the house by walking on her knees)
This meant that she started falling all over the cot and bashing her head and legs etc. By this time she was in a cot bed and took some serious whacks to her head, she’s always covered in bruises.
We didn’t know what to do so I started researching online. All of the half way suitable beds for disabled or special needs children were made of wood, some even had padding (which Bella had already proven she was able to either eat, chew or destroy) until I came across what seemed to be the answer to our prayers.

There was a bed called the safety sleeper and it wasn’t made of wood. It was metal that was extremely padded and then covered in material. The sides were made of super strong material and she couldn’t get out of it (to chew the skirting boards or windowsill or wardrobe in her room)
I immediately showed our OT but after many meetings and discussions they just wouldn’t approve it for us. We were devastated. All I wanted was to be able to sleep at night without worrying about Bella hurting herself.
Either me or my husband had to sleep in Bella’s room with her so that when she woke up for her nightly two hour play in bed, we could supervise and try to stop her chewing wood or jumping around or banging herself on the head and foot of the cot bed. It really took its toll as we still had three other children to look after including Bella’s older brother who also has autism.

It was about two weeks before Christmas when I got a phone call from Variety that would literally change our lives.
I had applied for help to a few charities but really didn’t expect any replies because her bed was such an expensive item but here was Doreen from Variety telling me that they had approved Bella’s bed and that we would have it before Christmas! You could have knocked me down with a feather I was so shocked!
Bella now has her bed and now every time I tuck her in I know that she is secure and safe and will come to no harm, no matter how hard she plays during the night.

Her bed is portable too which means that we can all finally go to visit Dublin zoo or go to Galway for a week in the summer or maybe one day in the future go to the UK to see family there.
We can do all the things we all took for granted before we had a disabled child.
When you get that diagnosis, your life changes beyond recognition and having a child in a wheelchair is difficult enough so anything that enables us to be able to live as “normal” life as possible is truly a blessing.
We would like to thank Variety from the bottom of our hearts. You’ve changed our lives in more ways than you can imagine.

Thank you so much.

From Hazel (Bella’s Mum) xxx”