Treasured time for a dad of five

Backpool Tiggers, St Annes Rd., Blackpool. Blackpool Tiggers project co-ordinator Sheila Cullinane with Bruce Ainge and his son Asa.

Backpool Tiggers, St Annes Rd., Blackpool. Blackpool Tiggers project co-ordinator Sheila Cullinane with Bruce Ainge and his son Asa.

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HEARING your child say good morning is something most parents take for granted – but for Bruce Ainge those words are some he will treasure.

Bruce’s 14-year-old son Asa was diagnosed as being profoundly autistic when he was just two and half and cannot communicate through speech.

But those rare occasions when he says even a single word are music to the ears of Bruce and his wife Hilary.

A couple of years ago, Mr Ainge woke Asa by saying “good morning” and to his amazement, his son said the words back three times.

However, those words have not been spoken since.

The Ainge family are one of dozens who are regular visitors to the headquarters of Blackpool Tiggers.

This week, The Gazette launched its latest campaign to help the autism activity group raise £40,000 to totally refurbish their headquarters.

The future of the charity is so important for families living with the condition according to Mr Ainge.

The father-of-five, of Powell Avenue, South Shore, said: “I don’t know what we would do without Tiggers, the fact Blackpool has this group is one of the main reasons we moved here from Kent in 2006.

“Having an autistic child is rather like being a monk, you live in isolation, have no visitors and never get invited anywhere.

“I envy families who can do simple things like take their children out to a restaurant, we could never take Asa.

“In the past he would sit quietly then throw a tantrum when the food arrived so my wife would have to take him out. People would glare at him and it would be heartbreaking as a father to sit alone with four dinners, now we don’t risk it.

“We worry so much about his future, without Tiggers we would never go anywhere.”

Mr Ainge says Asa’s quality of life has improved so much thanks to the help of the young volunteers at Tiggers.

Through their activities he enjoys bouncing on trampolines and sessions away from home doing arts and crafts with other autistic children.

He added: “If the centre got refurbished, we could install a sensory room which would open a new world for Asa. It means so much to the families who rely on Tiggers.”

If you can help call (01253) 361730.