A CHILDREN'S charity is aiming to raise £20,000 to build a sensory garden at a specialist school in Tadworth which looks after youngsters with autism.
The fundraising drive is being led by the Friends of Papillon House School and has included a school fair last month, with a charity golf day set to take place on Friday (June 15) at the Surrey National Golf Club in Chaldon.
George and Jackie Hughes, from Hambledon Park in Caterham, are parents to two autistic children - Callum, five, and Kieran, four - and they said finding Papillon House was life-changing.
Mrs Hughes, treasurer of the Friends charity, said: "It's a different life. They are very bright children but autism can get in the way, so they have to be in the right environment for them to learn.
"It really is life-changing, not just for the child but for the family too."
Mrs Hughes explained that the first phase of building the sensory garden was ready to get under way after more than £4,000 was raised at the school fair, although there is still a way to go to reach the fundraising target.
Her husband added: "Children with autism are often very bright individuals but have difficulty communicating and interacting with others.
"The equipment for the sensory garden has been carefully selected to encourage interaction between the children.
"It will also help them to develop physically, aid with co-ordination and balance, and improve their gross motor skills and problem-solving skills.
"Children with autism often experience high levels of anxiety and being able to use the sensory garden will enable them to burn off excess energy and anxiety in a positive way."
Mrs Hughes said: "It can often be perceived as bad behaviour, but they are wonderful children. Once you find the right help it changes your life."
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