Not having to go through the heartbreaking ordeal of restraining her own child to prevent him from self harm would be enough of a benefit for mum of two boys Tiffany Searle, who has recently introduced the Safety Pod into her five-year-old’s bedroom as a calming measure.
But as well as the joy of seeing her son happier, with no need to restrain him since the Safety Pod was introduced as a de-escalation tool, Tiffany is also saving a whopping £40 a week on gas bills during the school holidays, thanks to the physical intervention equipment.
Tiffany explains: “Before we got the Safety Pod, I was giving Harry five to six hot baths per day during school holidays, to keep him calm and fulfil his sensory needs.
“He likes the feeling of the water around him and the bubbles, so I would put him in the bath if he became frustrated, started getting angry, or threatened a meltdown.
“But I was spending £110 per week on gas to keep him topped up with hot water – something that’s now reduced to £70 per week according to my Smart Meter – and he only has one bath a day now before bed.”
Life before the Safety Pod was extremely tough for Tiffany, whose other son, Noah, eight, also has “undiagnosed autism”.
As well as autism, Harry also has global development delay, which means he demonstrates a toddler-like temperament and fearlessness, seeing everything around him as a toy or a game.
He is currently learning to say his colours, can sound out letter sounds and has hinted he can read certain words when he is using YouTube videos, but his inability to express his needs through speech can mean he often becomes frustrated and angry.
Often, this would escalate as far as banging his head off the doors and walls, trying to knock objects off the kitchen counter that he could potentially harm himself with, or trashing the family’s living room during “meltdowns” that could last 45 minutes or more.
But now he “doesn’t seem as anxious” and is happy laying on his Safety Pod to feel calm or jumping around on it to feel happy – something he can do without his mum fearing he will destroy it, as he has done countless bean bags she has purchased.
“I didn’t realise it would be this beneficial but it has helped so much,” Tiffany said.
“He spends a lot of time in his bedroom, his safe space, happy on the Pod, which is just brilliant.
“He wants to be on his own and have his own space in his room now and is using it before he has a meltdown.
“It’s good for him for sensory reasons and I haven’t had to restrain him at all since we’ve had the Pod.”
However, she adds it’s great to know that the Safety Pod is there if his behaviour does become more challenging again.
“I now have something there that can take his weight and support him if there comes a time I do need to restrain him for his own safety,” she said.
“Previously, I have had to restrain him on a hard floor as this was the safest option for him.
“It’s really horrendous when you have a child struggling like this and restraining him has had to be done to keep him safe.
“Now, if he gets in a rage I could get him to his room and give him deep pressure feedback on the Pod and we would be able to calm him down.”
Since having the pod, there has been a marked change in Harry’s behaviour, making for a calmer household all around.
Tiffany said: “It even helps me settle him better and more quickly on a night, as I sit on the pod – which is so comfy! – and he comes and gives me a cuddle and then goes back into his bed.
“The Pod is big but it fits under his bed, which is raised and I’m pleased he can’t move it around the house by himself as he has done with ordinary bean bags.
“The whole back garden is still covered in the little white balls from countless bean bags he has destroyed – but he hasn’t even tried to bite this and he can jump on it and it just holds its form.”
Tiffany says that straight away, Harry seemed to know what the Pod was there for and respected it.
She explains: “He loves it and knows he can use it for therapy – or jump on it when it’s raining outside and he can’t go on his trampoline, something we also use to help him stay calm.”
In fact, Harry loves being outdoors as much as in his newly furnished room.
And thanks to the £40 a week saving, Tiffany is looking forward to investing in more play equipment for Harry and his brother, including a large flat “disabled swing” he can lay on.
He has an ordinary swing and likes the motion of it but lays across it with the seat under his tummy.
Tiffany said: “All Harry thinks about is playing and what he can do next. Now I will have enough money to spend on sensory toys and play equipment for him and his brother.
“I’m just so pleased with how the Safety Pod has helped us and couldn’t recommend it enough.”