A north-east family has donated hundreds of pounds to a charity which helped support their son.
Five-year-old Max Ellis, from Ellon, has autism and is non-verbal.
His parents Neil and Louise enlisted the help of Rainbow Rogues, an organisation which provides support to children under five in the north-east who have additional support needs and disabilities.
Now, with Max due to move on and start school after the summer, Neil and Louise, who are also parents to seven-year-old Jack, have decided to give something back to the charity which they say made a huge difference to their son’s life.
For Neil’s 40th birthday, instead of gifts, the family asked for donations to Rainbow Rogues and raised £800.
They are hopeful the money raised will help support other youngsters like Max.
Louise, 39, said: “When Max was about two, I started to notice he wasn’t developing as quickly as the other children.
“It took a good year-and-a-half before he was diagnosed with autism and it was really difficult at first.
“I didn’t know how to help Max. I woke up one morning and I was really struggling. I realised things had to change.
“A friend had mentioned Rainbow Rogues to me and going there was the best decision I ever made, not just for me but for the sake of my whole family.
“They have been a huge support.”
Louise believes the charity, which has been supporting children in the north-east since 2005, has been pivotal in her son’s development.
She said: “I don’t think Max would be doing anywhere near as well as he is without all the help we have had from Rainbow Rogues.
“They were a lifeline for us, just as they have been for so many families.
“That’s why we decided to ask for donations to the charity rather than presents for Neil’s birthday. For a charity like Rainbow Rogues, that sort of money is going to go such a long way.”
Louise said the friendships she has made with staff and other parents have also helped the family as they continue to support Max.
She said: “The friendships I have made through our time at Rainbow Rogues have been absolutely amazing.
“There are quite small groups and everyone gets on really well. There are about seven or eight of us there and we are a very close-knit group.
“When you’re needing a bit of support, even if it’s in the middle of the night, we are all there for each other.
“It’s been such a great support. We wanted to speak out about the help they have given us because hopefully it will allow them to help other people.”
Rainbow Rogues manager Sally Sheehan said: “Rainbow Rogues has been supporting young families in central Aberdeenshire for many years.
“Becoming aware of their child’s disability or additional support need can be a very stressful and difficult time for parents.
“Rainbow Rogues has a supportive play environment for the children and their siblings to enjoy, while at the same time providing advice, support and information to parents and the wider family.
“We are so grateful to Neil and Louise for their amazing donation to the group.
“The money will help provide resources and play equipment to meet children’s individual needs and learning opportunities.”