South Leeds community rallies to give autistic Linus, eight, his own safe space

Eight-year-old Linus Harrison, from Middleton, who has autism. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Eight-year-old Linus Harrison, from Middleton, who has autism. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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A Leeds community has united in a fundraising bid to help an autistic eight-year-old schoolboy to be allowed to play safely on his own.

Linus Harrison, from Middleton, Leeds, was diagnosed with autism aged two and a half. He is unable to communicate, is still in nappies and does not understand the concept of safety.

His parents, Melissa and Steven, are determined to raise at least £8,000 for a special Safespace bed to allow him to have alone time and be free from the risk of accidentally harming himself.

The bed is like a small room which features sensory tools and calming light projections that will put Linus at ease.

South Leeds residents have backed the campaign to the tune of £3,000 after fundraisers at The Plantation pub, in Middleton, The Cross Keys, in Holbeck, Beeston Co-operative Food and by Linus’ grandmother Shirley Brummitt who has had her first tattoo drawn.

Melissa, 32, explained that the response from supporters has been “amazing” and she is hopeful that they can reach their target.

Eight-year-old Linus Harrison, from Middleton, with his mother Melissa. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Eight-year-old Linus Harrison, from Middleton, with his mother Melissa. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“My main concern is that he’s safe and happy and this bed will go a long way to keeping him safe,” she said.

“At the moment he’s needing 24-hour supervision and not only does it take it out on us and his grandparents, but it’s difficult for him as well. This can give him the alone time he sometimes needs.”

Linus’ condition started to emerge when he was around 18 months old. His development slowed, he struggled to look people in the eye and started having emotional meltdowns in certain situations due to ‘sensory overload’.

His family has learned to support his needs, with Linus, who attends the special unit at Richmond Hill Primary School, often wearing headphones so that he doesn’t become overwhelmed by his heightened senses.

But Melissa believes Linus is often misjudged by onlookers despite the fact that his understanding of language is similar to that of a two year old.

She added: “You wouldn’t actually know there was any difference to look at him, even if he spoke you might think he was a quiet or even a bit naughty.”

The family also receives support from Middleton-based charity Health For All, which is fundraising and counts Melissa as a member of its Rags to Riches group.

Visit facebook.com/FundsforLinus or email laragracebrummitt@gmail.com for information on how to donate via PayPal.

Peoples Holding staff Liv Pad, Liv Woodward, and Dan Causio.

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