‘In the past, even putting up a Christmas tree was hard’ – Rainham mum of autistic twins

Six-year-old twins Alfie and Louie

Six-year-old twins Alfie and Louie - Credit: Archant

For many Christmas is a time of anticipation – but for one Rainham mum this year it is even more acute.

Noreen Bishop, of Christchurch Avenue, has twins boys with autism. They’re six, which in normal circumstances would make them old enough be aware of Christmas’s excitement, young enough not to be disillusioned.

But since been diagnosed aged two, Alfie and Louie have struggled with simple things like sitting and walking, and can experience sensory overload when confronted with bright lights or loud noises.

For them Christmas has always been a day like any other – stressful, nervous and fraught.

But for nearly two years now the twins have been undergoing therapy supported by charity Nordoff Robbins, and things are looking up.

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“In the past it’s been really hard,” said mum Noreen, “it was really hard to put up a Christmas tree up.

“But this year Alfie has actually helped me put it up.

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“Before, at somewhere like Lakeside, they wouldn’t go up escalators or in lifts, but that’s different now too.”

It’s the music therapy provided by Nordoff Robbins the 44-year-old credits for the transformation.

Held in Highgate, the sessions use music to break down the difficulties caused by illness or disability. For Alfie and Louie this has meant drastic improvement in their social skills, brought about by simple classes where small groups of children get the chance the play around on musical instruments in the presence of trained therapists.

“A lot of these children do not make eye contact with other people because they do not have the social skills.

“These sessions get them used to dealing with a small group, to socialising with children.”

Now when Noreen wants to get Alfie or Louie to do something they might have previously struggled with, she hums tunes to calm them down.

“I do not know if it’s the music itself or the environment they’re in. But it just seems to help. It’s opened a window for Alfie and Louie,” she said.

• To find out more about Nordoff Robbins, visit www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk

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