For the love of Nerys

PUBLISHED: 12:44 24 August 2006 | UPDATED: 14:47 12 May 2010

Nerys Cook with her mum Denice Cook and play worker Heather Brown - Pic: Daniel Brown 1895DW04

Nerys Cook with her mum Denice Cook and play worker Heather Brown - Pic: Daniel Brown 1895DW04

A LITTLE girl who touched the hearts of people six years ago has again inspired a fund-raising campaign. Nerys Cook was diagnosed with autism when she was 20-months-old, and in 2000 her story captured attention in the Crow as her parents sought to find a

A LITTLE girl who touched the hearts of people six years ago has again inspired a fund-raising campaign.

Nerys Cook was diagnosed with autism when she was 20-months-old, and in 2000 her story captured attention in the Crow as her parents sought to find a suitable treatment for her disorder.

After researching various forms of treatment, parents David and Denice Cook of Wimpole discovered a pioneering method based in the US, the Son-Rise programme.

And in order to send Nerys to the Autism Treatment Center in Massachusetts, communities came together and helped raise £12,000, through fund-raising events and a campaign in The Crow.

Nerys responded to the therapy particularly well so Mr and Mrs Cook adopted the programme into her home care and still use it today.

The aim of the Son-Rise programme is to reach and engage autistic children through play, and allow the child to develop naturally.

Mr and Mrs Cook believe that the programme has made life easier, and have a strong hope that it will allow Nerys to one day live independently.

Six years after the Son-Rise methods were adopted, the improvement in nine-year-old Nerys has been remarkable, said 40-year-old Mrs Cook.

"Five years ago Nerys could not connect with anybody. But now she has more of an understanding and things mean a lot more to her now," she said.

"Before, she was totally encapsulated in her own little world. Now she is more sociable, and her interaction and communication levels have increased. She is even starting to draw."

Because of her progress and the success of her home help, Nerys's play worker Heather Brown is now raising funds to embark on her own visit to the Autism Treatment Center in November and enrol on a week-long training course.

While on the course she will undergo an intense training programme, learning different methods about working with autistic children.

To raise the £3,000 for traveling and for the course, Mrs Brown, of Litlington,, will be taking part in a 30-mile walk and tandem cycle with her sister, Karen Harris, of Royston.

Mrs Brown, 30, said: "I'm hoping that the course will inspire me. I want to pass on what I learn to the rest of the team and bring Nerys on even more.

"I'm expecting a lot of hard work, but I'm very much looking forward to it.

Mrs Cook said: "I think it's wonderful that people continue to support Nerys by clubbing together and helping. We really appreciate their support."

Mrs Brown is already on the way to reaching her target, and has received about £800, through donations.

Mrs Cook said: "Heather's training will be a great boost to Nerys's development. Hopefully she will come back with new ideas, which the rest of us can incorporate."

Mr Cook, 43, said: "Since Nerys has started the programme the change has been immense. I personally never thought we would hear her speak, but now she is starting to put words together.

"The progression has been amazing, and with Heather's training we are all positive that Nerys's development will continue further."

- The fund-raising event will be taking place on Saturday. Heather and her sister will start in Wimpole, making her way through Abington Piggots, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Melbourn, Shepreth, Barrington, and Orwell, before finishing in Wimpole.

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