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Help Fund a Facility for Max

$96,905 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 764 people in 10 months
SEVERE Autism, a family’s anguish               (please see the video below)

IPOK – “if people only knew” …

Not a very nice sounding acronym but this is not a very nice sounding story.

I find myself saying this time and again, "if people only knew"… how can a family live like this?

The answer is, they can’t, not any longer…

This is not my story but that of my amazing sister Liz, her husband Sean and their four beautiful children Tom 13, Max 11, Harry 9 and Georgia only 7. A beautiful, loving, humble and hardworking family who all live in fear and experience trauma daily as a result of their son’s very severe autism. I’d like to share with you an insight into their lives and to ask you for your support in helping them fund a solution.

Max is a beautiful child, he can be very affectionate and is dearly loved by every member of his family. Max is 11 years old and has severe non-verbal autism and I mean severe, one of the worst cases of autism imaginable. Max’s level of autism is no "Rain Man" comparison, it is a heart wrenching, extreme and complex disability that brings with it unfathomable frustration which results in him engaging in frequent intense, aggressive and violent meltdowns.

When Max is frustrated, the family home becomes a war zone and everyone in it is at risk. Max is now going through puberty and with this, he has developed an inexplicable strength that is specific only to those with this level of Autism. He will hit out at anyone who is within his reach, most often his mother but also his siblings and even the family’s beautiful dog, Kimba. He will regularly tear doors from hinges and anything that is not nailed down becomes a weapon to be hurled across a room, regardless of what, or more importantly who is in the way. Sadly, Max’s siblings have all borne the brunt both physically and emotionally from Max's outbursts and have taken to locking themselves in their rooms, fitted with special combination locks, for their own protection…yes, these children have locks on their door’s so they can lock themselves away from harm.

Their eldest son Tom, at just 13 years old, worries every day on his way home from school that a tragedy might await him when he walks in. Tom, being the oldest and the biggest, has taken on the role of the protector of his family, when his dad is at work there are often times when he has to physically restrain Max in order to protect his mother and his siblings from his brothers violent outbursts, this is not the life or the responsibility you’d want for any young teenager.

Their youngest son Harrison, at 9 years old is so emotionally traumatized from living with Max’s behaviours that he is riddled with anxiety, he feels powerless to help his family during Max’s meltdowns and his self-esteem has plummeted, he withdraws from many normal everyday activities. And then there is little Georgia Rose, who at 7 years old, is so frightened to be at home with her brother that she hides away in her bedroom behind her locked door where she can feel safe. Doing this though does not protect her, or any of them from hearing the devastating sounds of their Mum being hurt and attacked by their brother and the psychological damage it causes them. This is NOT a family violence situation in the sense, this is their life, life living with severe autism.

Sean, the children's father is a strong Aussie battler who dearly loves his family and will do anything to protect them. He is completely devoted to them and he stands by the motto that "no-one gets left behind" and through everyone's eyes, this includes Max.  

"If people only knew"...well now they are about to.

Whilst Sean is able to protect his family when he's at home he has to work to maintain a roof over their heads and to put food on the table. Liz has had to give up her working career in order to be available for Max at every moment of every day and this has severely impacted the family's financial situation. Sean frequently now has to leave his job as a builder during the day to deal with Max’s behaviours as Liz is no longer strong enough to control him on her own. Both he and Liz are living with the fear of knowing, that it is only a matter of time until a member of their family is seriously injured by Max, or even worse.

Sean and Liz have spent everything they have trying to support Max from the very tender age of 20 months old when they first received his diagnosis. They are a proactive family and have tried countless therapies, treatments and interventions to help Max and this has financially left them with nothing.

Perhaps you're thinking by now 'Why not just put Max in a facility?' 

Good idea, except there just aren't any facilities that are catered to Max's needs at his age. There are no facilities or government options equipped to look after Max on a more permanent basis, absolutely nothing... and here's the clincher, Max is desperately loved by his family and they do not want to have to relinquish him for the safety of their other children.

This family is in crisis. The consequences dire. If they are unable to set up their own facility for Max as well as providing a safe home for their other children, they have no choice but to consider relinquishing Max to the State, an absolutely heart-wrenching thought for any parent to ever have to contemplate. If this happens they will lose all rights to their child and he could be put in a home anywhere in Australia and if no home is available, he can be put into a hospital and medicated.  This would be utterly heartbreaking for them all, as they all love and worry about Max as much as they do each other. Imagine having to give up one of your children for the safety of the others? It’s a horrific situation that no parent wants to be in and it’s tearing them all apart. The safety of the other children is paramount and to successfully protect them from harm, Max needs to live separately.

Here in lies the solution and where we need your help…

This Go Fund Me Page is set up to raise money for Liz and Sean to convert their family home, Max's home, his familiar environment, into a personalised care facility that will meet his specific needs, physically, emotionally, structurally and educationally.

The funding from this page will also go towards employing specialist carers to care for Max 24/7. He will still have regular input and visitation from his family and Liz and Sean will oversee all of his care making sure his needs are consistently met. This conversion to their home will mean that the rest of the children will move with their parents to a small rental house nearby that will provide them with the safety, peace of mind and normality that they all so desperately need. They will finally have a home that is free from meltdowns, violence and locks, an environment where they are free to relax – a normal home, a safe home, a normal life.

If we can just raise enough money to pay for the conversion of their home into this facility, with professional carer’s employed, it would provide much relief and a new way of life for this family on the verge of breakdown. Our goal is $80,000. Please, if this story has touched your heart, dig deep and help Liz and Sean achieve the only solution they have.

Thank you for reading.

Testimonials

My name is Caroline Whelan.    My husband and I have reached desperation level at seeing the suffering of our son Sean, his beautiful wife Liz and their four children. Their son Max is at the extreme level of Autism and causes immeasurable suffering to his parents and their other three children, Tom, Harry and Georgia.
Max will turn 12 in May and over the years they have spent all their funds and energy on trying to improve his quality of life.  Unfortunately, as he grows to maturity his behaviour goes from impassive to violent to destructive to aggressive with no reasoning. His unpredictability causes enormous anxiety and fear to the other children and their parents.  There is no government facility for a child like Max, but they cannot continue to live in fear. We desperately need the funds to pay rent for a separate home for the family before a tragedy occurs in that household.  Thank you for reading my appeal. 

I have first-hand, heartfelt knowledge and association of the anguish this family has to endure and we see one person tragically effecting the lives of 5 other people and their pleas for help fall on deaf ears from people who choose to ignore a situation they could well support showing the apathy of our so called society leaders who choose to ignore the plight of those in desperate need of immediate help. Our so called elected representatives should be ashamed of them selves and the positions they hold for ignoring the plight of these families.     Vaughan Wilson Mt Martha.  

My name is Amanda Keogh.    Max is the most beautiful, wonderful, energetic boy who has severe autism and needs our support. I have watched Max grow up and become a loveable and cheeky soul. He is supported by his devoted family who cherishes him dearly. I have watched his family struggle on a daily basis to care for his needs. Max is non-verbal and communication with his family and others makes life extremely difficult. As Max grows and gets older his behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic and unpredictable. His behaviour is placing his parents and siblings at risk due to his physical size and strength and his parents are increasingly anxious about his future. Please find it in your hearts to help this little boy and his family.

A typical moment with Max.....


Our Max....
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Help Fund a Facility for Max

Just a quick update to let you all know how your generous donations are helping Liz & my brother Sean create a personal living facility for Max while they also provide a safe home for their other children.

Liz and the kids are moving out this Friday, into a small rental home close to where they all live now. Sean at this stage will stay with Max in the family home until they can employ and appropriately train the carers that are required to support Max properly and who will be well equipped to manage his complex behaviours. Sean will also oversee the beginnings of the modifications to the home that will specifically meet Max's complex needs.

Although this move is very positive in the plan moving forward for them all, it is not an easy transition for any of them.
It is with heavy hearts they make this move as neither Liz nor Sean want to have to separate their family, they feel they are forced to do so though in order to protect their other children, to keep them safe from harm and provide them with a better quality of life.

It is the family's hope that this separation will only be a short-term temporary arrangement, however, the duration will depend greatly on the NDIS funding they are granted for Max.
It is only with the NDIS funding that they will be able to implement the full-time care plan they have created for Max, which they will oversee and will result in the family being able to move back together. This funding is still an unknown variable in their situation which causes great angst for them.

We will now start to draw on the funds you all so generously donated, by transferring the money directly to Sean and Liz's account so they can pay for their home to be fixed/modified to cater for Max and to pay rent on the small safe rental house nearby

Again, we all thank you for your continued support and generosity.

Warmest regards,

Katie, Caz and Nicky x
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Hi Team members,

I wanted to ask again for some support with my campaign,

www.gofundme.com/Help-me-get-a-psych-service-dog

Just take a minute to read my story, and share through email, post on Facebook, tag a friend or businesses, and if you can donate.

Currently I live in a mental health board and lodge after a major mental breakdown due to Traumatic Grief. After months in a treatment center I've learned I'm also on the Autism Spectrum, Social and General Anxiety, Major Depression, Tourettes, OCD, and personality disorder traits. I've had Clinicians, Therapists, and Psychiatrists agree I should get a Mental Health (Psychiatric) Service dog to assist with my meltdowns, anxiety, panic attacks, companionship, and security.

I've lost plenty of friends and family members friendship because of my mental health. So I'd like to have a dog for a companion and most of all a friend.

So please see what you can do to help! If you're unable to donate. Then please share and let's make this an email chain?

Thank you!
Brandon William Strabley,
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Hi everyone, I wanted to thank everyone for your support and kindness with Max's campaign!

I'd like everyone to know I also have a campaign that also deals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can read my story here:
gofundme.com/Help-me-get-a-Psych-Service-Dog

With being on the Spectrum I have been dealing with Sensory overload from louds and lights. I've been having migraines since I was a toddler and always wearing sunglasses in a car. Because I didn't start talking until I was 5. I've always had issues with friends, and never had a long term relationship. That's why I started this campaign to get an extensively trained dog to help with my loneliness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc.

If you could just read my story? Share with others and tag a friend. If someone could reach out to Nicky Whelan and have her contact me also so she can spread my campaign? I've been a fan of her acting.
Thank you..
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To all our dear family, friends and followers,
We'd like to take the time to sincerely thank you for your donations to Sean and Liz, to the 'help fund a facility for Max' GoFundMe page. Your generous contributions are life-changing for this family.
Thanks again for your generosity and support.
Katie, Caz and Nicky xx
Please see below, from Sean and Liz,

We made it!!! We are so amazingly grateful to everyone who has donated their money, time and offered services free of charge to help our cause, creating our own personal facility for Max. We truly thank all of you so very much.
We have a mountain to climb moving forward in actually implementing our plan and making it a reality, however, this money has made it go from a desperate dream to a realistic and achievable goal that will improve the quality of life for our entire family.

We feel so blessed to have received the exposure we have with our campaign and feel equally blessed to have reached our target, if anyone still feels called to donate we would like to bring your attention to another campaign we have discovered that is very similar to our own and has not received the same exposure, nor the same success in reaching their goal. It is the story of another severely autistic boy, Alex... another family in a dire situation, his GoFund Me campaign is here:

https://www.gofundme.com/fundraiser-for-alex-mcneill

On a final note, as a result of the amazing exposure and support we have received we have been contacted by various media entities regarding our story and we are now forging forward to create awareness and change for all Australian families living with Autism at the Severe end of the Spectrum.

From the bottom of our hearts,
we thank you...

Liz, Sean and the Kids xoxo
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$96,905 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 764 people in 10 months
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