History of AEIOU
Until the age of one or so, Louise and James Morton found their son Andrew to be the most delightful baby any parent could wish for.
But after this time, his behaviour changed. Andrew would continually cry and get very upset when left alone with carers or when visitors were present. At times, his behaviour escalated to severe head banging. He did not try to attempt baby talk and was silent except for the word 'mum'.
Slowly, Andrew's parents found themselves withdrawing from all outings and social contact. They would even feel sick at the thought of dropping their eldest child at kindergarten as Andrew would scream, kick and shout.
At the age of two, Andrew was diagnosed with autism which helped explain his behaviour.
Louise and James wanted to find Andrew the best possible educational program that would eventually lead to him attending a mainstream school. They discovered an early intervention pilot program run by Education Queensland that employed a high number of teachers to student ratio and focused on social developmental skills, play and speech skills and behaviour intervention.
The program offered by Education Queensland provided a social setting contrary to other early intervention programs that were strictly home-based. They knew it was crucial for Andrew to develop sharing and social skills. A simple picture card system was introduced to enhance Andrew’s communications which eventually lead to him beginning to talk. Using this simple system at home, Andrew was able to communicate with his parents by showing the picture cards of the items he required, for example; food and videos. As a result, his anxiety and frustration levels decreased and his overall behaviour improved.
Gone was the head banging and screaming if his parents went out. Now he cried if they left without him. The Mortons could now start to interact like other families. After 18 months in the program, Andrew started putting sentences together, learning the alphabet and could count to 20. He played with his siblings and loved to go to parks, McDonalds and indoor playgrounds just like other children. Andrew was able to start at a regular kindergarten and enjoyed the experience. To further his educational development, Andrew still required ongoing therapy from his early intervention teachers.
However, in 2003, the early intervention centre was closed. The Mortons found there was no other service of its kind offered anywhere in Queensland and as a result they were forced to continue Andrew’s therapy in their own home. Dissatisfied with the fact that Andrew and thousands of children like him, had no opportunity to attend an early intervention facility that was dedicated solely to children with Autism they decided to start their own..
In November 2003, James and Louise, together with Andrew's Educational Therapist Rebecca Allen, started AEIOU (Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit). In February 2005, the first AEIOU centre was opened in Moorooka, Queensland. The centre was dedicated solely to an intensive early intervention learning program for children aged 2-5 years.
Today, AEIOU operates from nine locations across Queensland.
By providing Queensland children with access to early intervention therapy at AEIOU, the Morton's goal, and AEIOU Foundation's goal, is to ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.