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A caring Campbeltown girl is putting on her running shoes to raise funds so her little brother can gain access to innovative autism services.
Esmie MacLean, who is only five-year-old and has no running experience, is being sponsored to take part in this year’s junior MOK Run. She will take part in the five-to-six age category, meaning she will run 500m.
Esmie, who will be six on Sunday, hopes to raise £5,000 so that her three-year-old brother Lyle, who is awaiting his official diagnosis as autistic, can attend Glasgow-based Bluesky, which offers pivotal response therapy for children.
Bluesky is described as an innovative and unique service providing individual programmes of therapy to young children experiencing development delays, including autism.
Esmie and Lyle’s parents, Iona and Scott MacLean, said: ‘We have been aware that Lyle was facing more challenges than other children his age, as he is often very frustrated and he wasn’t hitting all his milestones – and the milestones he had made were regressing.
‘He is currently non-verbal and he was given an ‘unofficial’ diagnosis for autism on January 7, 2019.
‘Unfortunately services like Bluesky cost a lot of money and it really is sad that these services aren’t realistically affordable for most working families.
‘Also with all the cut backs being made, there is absolutely no funding available to help with this type of therapy. However we cannot simply sit back and let an opportunity to bring out the best in Lyle pass us by.’
Lyle is currently on the waiting list to attend Bluesky, so Iona and Scott aren’t sure how much it will cost to enroll him. Esmie is hoping to raise £5,000 as it is thought that this will cover about one year to 18 months of therapy, including his initial assessment.
‘Of course that could change depending on what programme they feel is best for Lyle,’ added Iona.
‘As a parent there are no boundaries to what you would do for your children and we cannot put into words how much this means to us, and to even have some hope that we might one day hear our baby boy call out Mummy, Daddy or Esmie. We long for those words and to have interaction with Lyle as a family unit and ease the frustration for him because he cannot communicate his needs.’
Iona and Scott describe their daughter as an amazing big sister and Lyle’s number one fan.
‘She is so patient with him considering his needs always come before hers,’ they said. ‘We are so proud of her for not only entering the race but also doing the best she can for her little brother.’
The fundraising page, which can be found by searching for ‘Esmie MacLean’ on the GoFundMe website, had raised more than £1,000 by the time the Courier went to print.
If for any reason Lyle cannot be enrolled with Bluesky or the therapy does not work for him, the family plans to donate the money raised to the Scottish Autism charity, which has offered them ‘invaluable support’.
Iona added: ‘Campbeltown is a very caring and generous community. We are extremely grateful for everyone who has sponsored Esmie and we are thankful for the all the messages of support we have received.
‘We are very proud of Esmie for taking part in the MOK Run and we are looking forward to cheering her on.’