A GORNAL mum is on a mission to build a safe sensory garden for her son who lives with severe autism and developmental delay.

Claire Painter-Tilt is aiming to raise £3,600 to rebuild the garden at her Upper Gornal home so that her son Oliver can play safely and thrive.

The three-year-old was diagnosed with severe autism, sensory processing disorder and severe global developmental delay in May, which means that simply playing outside is fraught with hazards as the youngster is uncommunicative and does not possess any sense of danger.

Claire, her husband John, Oliver and six-year-old Eve were moved into a house on North Oval in Upper Gornal in September and the family soon realised the garden is not safe for Oliver to play in as it is covered in concrete.

Claire explained: "It’s not safe for any child, let alone a child with needs such as Oliver."

Claire has to vigilantly follow Oliver around each time he ventures into the garden. Public parks and soft play areas are also too unsafe for the youngster, so he often cannot get outside and play.

She added: "Oliver absolutely loves being outdoors but without a secure and safe environment it’s just not possible."

The appeal, which is being supported by children's charity Smile For A Child, has already raised over £1,000. Donations can be made here.

The money will help towards covering the garden with artificial grass, securing the fencing, levelling the ground and buying specialist playground equipment.

The mum-of-two is also hoping the appeal will raise awareness of hidden disabilities, as she says many people do not understand the extent of Oliver's condition as outwardly he appears fine.

She says this makes going out as a family difficult as Oliver is prone to head banging and meltdowns, which often are misunderstood by the public.

Claire said: "We're still trying to come to terms with it. We have to find our new normal. We didn’t expect it all, it’s was a huge shock. Autism had never come into our minds at all."

Claire's mission is also being supported by the Seven Stars pub in Sedgley, which is hosting a fundraising evening for Oliver on November 15.

The pub on Gospel End Road will host a fun evening where people are invited to take on wacky challenges to raise cash, along with prizes and a disco.

Claire has nothing but thanks for all those who have backed the appeal such as Smile For A Child and all the staff at Seven Stars pub.

She added: "I can’t fault the NHS, the way they treated him from the start was amazing."