Mum, Louise, shares how play equipment from Variety has helped improve Isabella’s sensory issues

Isabella is a lively six year-old girl who has autism, ADHD and a sensory processing disorder. She lives with her mum, Louise, and her twin sister, Lilianna, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Isabella is a busy and active child, who loves jumping on a trampoline, swinging, running and dancing. However, because of her conditions, she experiences extreme anxiety and is prone to frustration, anger and outbursts when she is feeling overwhelmed. Isabella can have difficulty focusing and concentrating with academic work in mainstream school. She particularly struggles to learn phonics and numbers. To help provide relief for Isabella’s anxiety and emotional outbursts, Variety funded an outdoor combination jungle gym. Here, mum Louise shares the difference this has made to her daughter.

Isabella jungle gym den entrance

“Both Isabella & her twin sister are absolutely delighted and over the moon with their new jungle gym,” says Louise. “The entire frame, including swings, trapeze, monkey bars, climbing rope, ladders and slide, is beyond all our expectations. We are very grateful to Variety and their fundraising.”

Since receiving the jungle gym, Isabella has turned one of the towers into a sensory chill out den that she can retreat to for some calming time when she feels overwhelmed by everyday things. The swinging motion from the swings also helps regulate her, so she can process information more easily.  The trapeze bars, rope, climbing apparatus and slide are helping greatly to improve her gross motor skills, her balance, her vestibular and proprioceptive senses; improve her coordination, develop her muscles and core strength. The jungle gym is giving her and her twin lots of fun and laughs! It’s brilliant for distracting her when she’s exasperated, frustrated or feeling anxious, as it greatly calms her.

The apparatus is also helping Isabella further develop her social skills such as turn-taking and sharing. For example, Isabella and Lillianna love having lunch together at the picnic table and they enjoy chatting to each other across the bridge. They take turns visiting each other in their ‘turrets’ and going down the slide. The jungle gym also encourages rich, imaginative play and role play, such as pretending to be Rapunzel in the towers, which helps to keep both girls engaged and happy.

Isabella is looking forward to being able to invite her friends over to play on the jungle gym with her and her sister as the lockdown eases.

Isabella jungle gym climbing twins

Isabella jungle gym den

Isabella jungle gym swinging