Described as ‘obsessed with washing machines’ 22-year-old Spencer Leadbeater, who has autism and obsessive compulsive disorder, is waiting to see if parts on the way to fix his broken down Indesit SGE 12 X UK model washing machine work. However, he is also on the hunt for an exact fully-working model too.
His father, Marc Leadbeater, said they were desperately searching for a replacement.
‘This machine is of massive importance to my autistic son,’ he said.
‘It is the most important thing in his life as it helps to calm him down when he gets stressed.
‘The problem we’ve got is that it’s such an old machine – 15-20 years – that trying to locate the correct parts for it and programme them is difficult as the programme is no longer available.’
Getting the parts of a working model though would mean the world to Spencer who has always been fascinated with washing machines from a young age.
‘When he was younger we found out that there was quite a community of autistic children dotted around the world, as far away as Australia that share videos of their own washing machines on YouTube,’ he said.
‘This machine in particular used to belong to his uncle Phil and he remembers it and that creates a whole sensory thing for him, I don’t know what it is about it possibly the noise the motor makes, the noise the fan makes, the spin, how the bubbles move around the drum, but it creates this sensory experience for him.
‘He likes to put Radox in it to see the different textures you get as opposed to detergent and fairy liquid, it fascinates him as it does for many other people with autism.’
Since posting about his search on Facebook and through an advertisement in the Guernsey Press, Marc said it had gone ‘viral’ and he was being inundated with calls and messages from local, the UK public, engineers, washing machine collectors and the company who made the model itself, Indesit, trying to help.
‘It’s been crazy and really lovely to have so many people helping and we may have located the programme part but we’re not certain it will work until it arrives,’ he said.
‘The thing is though we want to try and find another washing machine, it broke down just before lockdown and he’s really missed it, really struggled without it and thinks and talks about nothing else.
‘Knowing that there’s parts on the way has really helped him cope and been a boost to him, now we want to try and get another so that we can always make it work again in future.’
Marc has said he is more than willing to either purchase one or swap for a newer machine, even if it is not working as he would still want it for parts.
Anybody who can help is asked to contact Marc on 07781163941.