Petra Ecclestone has spoken out about how challenging it can be to raise a child with learning difficulties.
The heiress, who has three kids, has opened a specialist treatment centre for autistic children after her eldest child and only daughter Lavinia diagnosed at 20 months with speech delay, a form of learning difficulty.
She also shares twin sons, three-year-old James Robert Fredrick Jr and Andrew Kulbir, with her former husband, art dealer James Stunt.
3 year old Eva is the first to be treated at Petra’s Place - a first of its kind early intervention centre for children with autism in Fulham - set up by millionaire fashion designer Petra Ecclestone pic.twitter.com/dKNWLOoe4x— Chloe Keedy (@ChloeKeedyITV) November 1, 2018
Petra revealed that the experience of having a child with autism can be quite draining.
She said that, ''these things can tear apart families. Children on the spectrum, a percentage of them don’t sleep through the night.''
She continued, ''you have children that are seven or 10 years old but are still just constantly waking up. It takes a toll on every single person’s life, so for us to be able to stick together and support each other is such a difference.”
Petra, the daughter of F1 racing tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, has launched Petra’s Place, a therapy centre for children with autism or other learning difficulties in London.
Fascinating new study finds that typical siblings of children with #autism tend to struggle with social and emotional difficulties and could suggest that they would benefit from early behavioural treatments. Read more here: https://t.co/AtIO0WgmMD … https://t.co/TTUjPC4ROE— Petra E Foundation (@PetraEFdtn) October 22, 2018
She went on to say that early recognition of the condition and therapy were what allowed her daughter to attend mainstream school.
She said, ''now she is five years old and able to go to mainstream school and is talking completely fluently. I caught her before the age of two…People over here [in the UK] sometimes don’t get diagnosed even until the age of five, six or seven. Then it’s too late.''
She continued, ''it's hard as a mum. It was my first child so you are waiting for the first words. You can’t wait for her to say ‘mumma’ or you are waiting for her to say anything really. She was non-verbal until she was three-and-a-half. It’s hard and you are comparing yourself to other children out there.''
However she is now focusing on raising awareness of treatment available to autistic children.
She said, ''you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself but I think it’s so important to raise awareness and not to suffer.”