Heartbreaking reason single mum has never shared a meal with her son

Charlie Farthing loves yoga and dancing, and, like most 15-year-olds, he's got a packed schedule. 

His mum Cheryl says he loves cheerleading, hip hop class and squabbling over iPad time. 

But there are a few things Charlie doesn't do - he doesn't talk much and he can't eat solid foods. 

That's because Charlie was born with Down Syndrome and a rare form of epilepsy. As an infant, he had open-heart surgery and bowel surgery, any effort to feed him set off seizures, meaning he had to be fed through a tube. 

"Charlie can't eat solid food. He's never learned to bite or chew, he can only eat baby food," Cheryl said. 

"When he goes with his social club, he's always around food. If you go to movies, you have pizza or laser tag, you have ice cream."

Cheryl said Charlie misses out on a lot of social activity because he doesn't eat, and she's hoping to change that. 

"He's never had a piece of birthday cake, never been part of Christmas lunch, he can't enjoy food in any way. "

When Charlie was little, Cheryl took out a second mortgage on her home so she could take him to a clinic in Austria that helped wean him off his feeding tubes. 

Now, after exhausting all of her options here in New Zealand, she wants to take him back to Austria so he can finally learn how to eat solid food.  

But there's a catch - the treatment he needs is "phenomenally expensive". 

"We've been fundraising for a while, cinema screening, bake sales, sound baths."

Cheryl says having a family meal with Charlie would be "amazing".

"To share a meal with Charlie, [to] actually eat the same thing, would be amazing," she said. 

"It's so good for him as he moves into the world as a young adult. I want him to go down to the pub and order chips like anyone else."


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