“It’s okay, it’s just water.” Dion repeated these words as he took his first tentative steps into the pool. Sabina could barely believe her eyes. Days ago, this would have seemed impossible.
“It used to be hell for Dion when I had to bathe him. He was just petrified of water. But here he was, bravely going in, even though he was scared of getting his face wet.
“By the end of that first day, I couldn’t get him out of the pool he was having so much fun on the slides and playing with the other kids.”
This was just one of many wonderful moments on Dion and Sabina’s five-day trip to Butlins in the seaside town of Bognor Regis. The holiday came at just the right time for them both.
Dion has additional needs, including suspected autism. He feels uncomfortable in spaces with lots of people and often doesn’t like to take off his shoes or coat.
Sabina’s partner was controlling, and this made life incredibly difficult for them both.
“The first six months of his life, Dion’s dad was around. We would often be shouting at each other, and I think my son felt that. Dion probably felt afraid of things without really knowing why.”
Sabina hoped that some time away from home would help Dion gain confidence and try new things.
“I saw the option to go to Butlins, and I thought that was the only choice for us. I could try to get him used to water, take his shoes off, and walk on the sand.”
Dion thrives on routine, so Sabina made sure to prepare Dion for the trip. She explained that they would get on a train and go to a new place by the seaside. Sabina showed Dion the beach toys and the different things they were taking.
He saw all these kids playing in the indoor playground, and he wanted to join them. Usually, he wouldn’t like to take off his shoes, but he was happy to take them off and go enjoy himself with the other children. That never would have happened before.
Dion’s confidence grew day by day, and he even faced his fear of walking on the sand and pebbles. Sabina finally felt like she could relax and enjoy time with her son too – free from the worries she carried around with her.
Sabina and Dion have both felt the positive impact of the holiday since they’ve come home. In Dion’s speech therapy sessions, he is learning more about how to express himself.
“Dion used to point and scream, now he talks to me and tells me what he needs. He has more words to talk about how he feels.”
Sabina has felt her own confidence grow too. She has faced a lot of challenges in her personal life, but she now feels much more positive about herself and the future.