Piper Coughran nearly lost her tenth birthday to the COVID-19 pandemic before the community stepped in and saved it.
Piper Coughran nearly lost her tenth birthday to the COVID-19 pandemic before the community stepped in and saved it.

Community rallies to save girl’s 10th birthday

FOR many people the harsh realities of social isolation are sometimes difficult to bear, but this Swan Bay family were happily surprised when the community rallied to save their daughter's birthday party.

10-year-old Piper, who is diagnosed with autism and a moderate intellectual disability, was set to have a disco party and a sleepover and was devastated to discover her tenth birthday party wouldn't be going ahead due to social isolation.

But there was a deeper reason for her upset than just missing a party.

"I found Piper in her room crying one evening in the lead up to her birthday and when I asked what was bothering her she said that she didn't want to have to do the whole 'My name is Piper' thing again with her family and friends," Piper's mom Claire Coughran said.

"She was concerned that all of the hard work that she had done to build and maintain friendships and relationships would be ruined by social isolation."

Mrs Coughran said she put aside her normal desire for a private family life and made the shout out on facebook for friends and family to send videos wishing Piper a happy birthday.

We received 15 videos of people singing and dancing and telling jokes.

"Our neighbours sent us a video of a movie trailer they had created where they saved the disco party.

"Piper received 35 messages and we took some time responding to the messages with videos Piper had made or phone conversations so she could practise her social/conversational skills.

"Piper was stunned. She kept asking us why people were thinking of her. She had a few belly laughs about the silliness and was reassured that she is loved and respected."

Mrs Coughran said as her and her husband were essential workers themselves, they had noticed the need for people to talk, converse and comfort one another with normal routines, including checking in on friends and family.

"We are finding that routine, daily doses of sunshine and a bit of physical activity are helping with our children's anxiety.

"Continuing therapy through Skype, Zoom or Telehealth has been really important. And just slowing down and making sure that everyone is feeling mentally well has been a big focus for us as a family."

If you would like to send Piper a birthday message send it to: marc.stapelberg@northernstar.com.au


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