Patrick's dream inspired move to the country

An Essex family are upping sticks to live in their “forever rural home” in order to improve the quality of life of 10-year-old Patrick, who is autistic and registered blind.

As first seen in The Countryman Magazine -

An Essex family are upping sticks to live in their “forever rural home” in order to improve the quality of life of 10-year-old Patrick, who is autistic and registered blind.

Katy, Patrick’s mother, is selling up her house in Chelmsford, Essex in a challenging urban environment to live in a specially adapted annex attached to her parent’s house in the country. Instead of hearing police sirens, Patrick will wake up to bird song. His sensory awareness will be heightened and the fresh air and space will be very therapeutic for him.

“When Patrick is in the country he is a different boy. He is calm and he loves the space, where there are no neighbours and no loud traffic. At the moment we don’t really integrate as everything around us is chaotic and noisy. ”

Patrick and Katy plan to embrace everything the countryside has to offer, they will keep chickens, grow their own vegetables and live the good life. At the moment Katy is juggling two lives, one in the town, where she lives, and one in the country, where her parents live. By moving house she will be combining the best of both worlds.Katy and Patrick are very excited about the move to their “idyllic forever home”, plus Katy said by selling up she will be mortgage-free and be able to work from home. The specially adapted annex will be on one level as stairs are difficult for Patrick and there will be a walk-in shower which will make life much easier. This is a house that will grow with Patrick.

Logistically, life will be much easier as Patrick is very attached to certain toys and because he is often going back and forth to his grandparent’s house, Katy has to make sure he always has them, if not, she has to go back. The constant travelling can be stressful. Katy said it will be a “huge relief to be in one-place,” Patrick can stay at his current school, but will have the security of having everything he loves surrounding him in a calmer environment.

Patrick, is a very special boy, he was born prematurely at 29 weeks and was tiny, weighing only one pound 12 ounces. He had a severe bowl condition and nearly died. Katy said: “Against the odds, Patrick’s pulled through and we feel so lucky to have him.”

At six months old, Patrick came home, but Katy, instinctively felt his development was delayed and an MRI scan revealed he was brain damaged. Patrick also suffers from a motor disorder, learning difficulties, autism and is visually impaired, now registered blind.  “When he was born his diagnosis was severe and the expectations of what he could achieve were not very high.”

Katy, said, Patrick is now thriving and loves life: “Patrick is a really quirky character with a great sense of humour. On paper he has a whole lot of problems but he is full of beans and we are incredibly proud of him.”

Patrick loves animals, swimming and his dog, Daisy Doo and in August of this year, Katy approached the children’s charity Dreams Come True to ask for a relaxing holiday for Patrick and his grandparents.As Patrick is an only child, Katy wanted to get a dog, so there would be “another focus in the house”, plus it would be a lovely companion for Patrick. They are now the proud owners of Daisy Doo, a Golden Doodle - a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle, but according to Katy, looks more like a polar bear! She follows Patrick everywhere and they have a really special bond. The dog has become such a positive influence on the family.


Dreams Come True arranged for Patrick, Katy, his Grandparents and Daisy Doo to have a week’s holiday in a cottage on an organic farm in North Yorkshire less than an hour’s drive from the coast.  Because the farm was organic it meant Patrick could feed the animals which he loves to do.  There was also and a wonderful indoor heated swimming pool that was shared between 5 rental cottages. 

The North Yorkshire farm fulfilled everything they had dreamed of. It was a safe, happy environment with animals at the bottom of the garden. Because Patrick is partially sighted it took him a bit of time to orientate himself around the cottage, but he soon gained confidence and enjoyed exploring his new surroundings.

Patrick loves swimming but his sensory needs means he finds it difficult to cope in noisy public swimming pools. Katy said he could walk to the pool from the house, swim in the shallow end and because his body temperature drops after swimming he could go back for a warm bath.

Katy said: “Patrick loved the pool and was able to use it happily and calmly without getting overwhelmed by the usual noises of others like he does in public pools. He was so calm and happy splashing about in the shallow end that I was even able to do some lengths!  He also loved feeding the farm animals that roamed around outside our cottage and had some lovely trips to the beach too ending with Whitby fish and chips.  Many thanks to you and the whole Dreams come true team for making this possible - we all benefitted and had a lovely relaxing break.”

Patrick finds it hard to express his emotions, but in the countryside he seems to relax, which makes Katy relax.  They are looking forward to feeding animals, growing vegetables, walking their dog and breathing in fresh air.

“Often a disability limits what you can do, but in the countryside we feel calm, happy and free.”

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Author: Hannah Attenburrow

Date: 31/07/2014

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