A DISABLED teenager has been given a new lease of life after meeting other youngsters in the same boat.
Adam Barton, 17, felt badly isolated by autism, cerebral palsy and developmental disorders and struggled to communicate with his younger sister.
But his family say Adam, who has a mental age of between two and five, has opened up after Westcliff-based charity Break with Mates introduced him to other children with learning disabilities.
His mother Judy, 45, of Norwich Avenue, Southend, said: “Before Break with Mates he didn’t do anything.
“It’s been brilliant; they’ve really brought him out of his shell.
“They’re doing things with him I could never do – they encourage him to be the Adam he can be.”
Adam suffers with global delay, a condition which affects his mental, emotional and physical growth, as well as echolalia, which makes him automatically repeat other people’s speech.
He is also autistic and had cerebral palsy.
At a Break with Mates-organised weekend at Stubbers Adventure Centre, Upminster, Adam got to try archery, jet skiing and laser tag.
Break with Mates has also helped support his family, who are still grieving for the loss of Adam’s twin brother, Calum, when he was aged four.
Calum had the same disabilities as his brother, but was blind, too. Mrs Barton said: “I’ve still got half of Calum with me. I’d be lost without Adam.”
She was initially wary of letting her son go away for the weekend, but was relieved and delighted with the results.
She added: “Sometimes when you try to protect them, you do them more harm than good.
“I had to let go. If I hadn’t, he’d still be in his bedroom, rocking backwards and forwards.
“He is safe and well cared-for at all events and comes home with a huge grin on his face.
“He now has a social life, independence and most important of all, friends. He is no longer alone.”
Break with Mates encourages service users to make new friends or maintain lasting friendships through organised activities.
Despite getting some funding from Southend Council, the charity relies on fundraising and help from volunteers.
For more information, visit breakwithmates.org.uk