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Help With Finance

Unfortunately, because specialised items for SPD are only made in small quantities, use specialised fabrics, and need extra time and attention for specialised seaming, this often results in prices being considerably higher than standard high street prices for similar garments.

Lack of appropriate support for parents of SEN children often results in a reduction in the time the parents can work – and therefore lower income. This predicament affects thousands of caring families across the country. It can be deeply upsetting when you find the products your sensory child or other family member needs, but then find you can’t afford them. Here at Sensory Smart, we hope that with the information provided below, we can help you and many others who may not know where to go for support.

Where can I get financial help?

Firstly you need to be sure you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. The main benefits that may apply are DLA/PIP, Carers Allowance, Universal Credit, Housing Benefit.

A good place to start finding out about all this is with online benefits checkers: 

Benefits calculators - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Benefits Calculator - entitledto - independent | accurate | reliable

Better Off Calculator | Policy In Practice

It is also then worth looking at local support available to you:

Find an adviser | Advicelocal

And then work through your local list or organisations that apply to you, including getting in touch with your local Citizens Advice.  You may be lucky and find you have a local support group catering for Sensory Processing Issues that can signpost you easily to everything in your area.

Check with your local council. There are often initiatives for free bus passes, cinema passes or other items that you won’t find out about unless you ask.

Check with local attractions, there are often reduced entry for disabled or free carers, or low sensory entry times available – and if there aren’t, the more people who ask, the better to create the demand and make it start to happen.

All of this can be very overwhelming and the processes for making applications can be very demanding. Often you find someone who can help you but then it leads to a huge list of even more things to do! Pace yourself.

Sensory Smart founder, Mel Thomsett shares her experience on applying for financial support:

'Of all the things that caused me stress and distress over the years, getting through some of these applications was absolutely the worst – the combination of the unfairness of the situation – that getting help when I needed it most was such hard work, and then having to spell out your child/family members worst moments in black and white to faceless strangers is beyond awful. Trying to find time to read an 18 page application when you can’t even go to the loo without getting someone to watch your sensory seeking child and keep them safe.

It caused me shock, going through the process of spelling out my sons challenges and all the ways it affects his life and our family's. The DLA/PIP application process was truly hideous/bleak/grueling. It is likely your first application will get rejected and you will have to appeal.  But please, don’t give up. I can’t say this enough.

Get a friend to help if you can. Out of the blue one day my Dad’s girlfriend offered to do all the online research about certain topics for me – this really helped reduce the overwhelm as she gave me a summary and a few things to do, rather than me wading through the forests of information alone at night when I was supposed to be sleeping!  

Citizens Advice have some handy checklists that helped me stay on point with my applications. In some lucky postcodes there are advocates who come to your home and complete the paperwork with you and in some local areas there will be a charity or support group specifically to help you get through the paperwork.'

Charitable support

Once you have covered all of the bases on what is available to you through benefits, and the National and Local support systems, you can approach charitable organizations. The first port of call should definitely be the Family Fund who have a specific fund for Sensory Toys and Equipment:

How to use a sensory toys and equipment grant - Family Fund

Other charities that assist include (but are not limited to):

Registered Charity No: 1164806 (sensory-people.co.uk)

Non-profit Charity | Sensory Sanctuary

Get Sensory Packs - Caudwell Children

Home | Merlin's Magic Wand Children Charity (merlinsmagicwand.org)

SNAP Charity - Registered Charity No.1077787

Peeps HIE Charity | HIE Awareness & Support (peeps-hie.org)

Communication Aids | Electronic Communication Aid | Sequal Trust (thesequaltrust.org.uk)

Sense | For people with complex disabilities

Cerebra - Working with you and your amazing child

Some are means tested, but not all.  If you get great help or support from a charity not listed here, please let us know as it means we can help others by sharing the resource here.

*Please note the funding support information below is aimed for our UK customers. If you are looking for support overseas please get in touch with your local government who may be able to direct you to your country's alternatives.