Boy with dream to swim, 9, uses flooded park while pools are closed

Jospeh enjoying the flooded playground in Great Cornard with his sister Lilly

Jospeh enjoying the flooded playground in Great Cornard with his sister Lilly - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A little boy desperate to go swimming during lockdown has been splashing around at his nearby play park - after it was transformed into a lake by flooding.

Joseph Mallett lives in Great Cornard with his parents, brother and sister, where the park has been completely submerged after weeks of rainfall and rising river levels.

Jospeh has high functioning autism and selective mutism

Jospeh has high functioning autism and selective mutism - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The nine-year-old, who has high functioning autism and selective mutism, has been going into the water every day since it first flooded, leaving mum Claire going into overdrive to keep up with all the washing.

"He goes into the water in his trainers and clothes, he just doesn't feel the cold or heat so he'd be down there for hours if he could," she said.

"When we went on holiday to a Haven over the summer, there was a pool and he spent all day in there.

"We bought him a snorkel and he wears it in the back sometimes, just laying there, but it's not the same for him as feeling the water around him and being able to move in it."

Jospeh Mallett enjoying the flooded playground in Great Cornard

Jospeh won't wear wellies but doesn't feel the cold, so is happy to splash about in his clothes - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Children with autism are often drawn to water as a very sensory experience which many find soothing.

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However, drowning is a leading cause of death in children with autism, so the activity requires constant supervision.

Mum Claire is studying at West Suffolk College and will be going to the University of Suffolk in September to qualify as a healthcare professional, while her husband Stuart is a full-time carer for Joseph.

They are keen to find somewhere for Joseph to swim each week once restrictions allow and are searching for private pool hire in the West Suffolk area.

Jospeh Mallett enjoying the flooded playground in Great Cornard.

The park in Great Cornard has been completely submerged under a lake of floodwater - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Claire is also hoping to find a therapy cat for Joseph for his birthday in April. She is appealing for anyone with kittens for sale to get in touch, as they have so far been unsuccessful in finding any.

Even though the nine-year-old is fiercely intelligent for his age, he has struggled with the successive lockdowns and the family are hoping to find ways to bring him joy during this difficult time.

If you are able to help the Mallett family, please get in touch with holly.hume@archant.co.uk

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