This holiday season, many of us will take a break from work, possibly a holiday away, maybe even a trip overseas. We will enjoy creating new memories that will last a lifetime. But, for families of children with autism, new experiences are not always something to look forward to. Changes to routine often result in overwhelming reactions from a child with autism which affect the whole family. They don’t get the opportunity to enjoy what many of us take for granted.
The Mizzi family, whose son Sam attends AEIOU, have managed to take their first family vacation thanks to the amazing progress he has made since starting early intervention last year.
“AEIOU has given us hope for Sam's future”
Our journey with AEIOU has taken us from helplessly watching our son have daily multiple meltdowns to a successful first camping trip as a family. We love the outdoors but even one night away with Sam and our daughter was something we’d never thought would be possible before AEIOU. It’s amazing to think how far our family has come through early intervention.
Sam was always an unsettled baby, but from around 12 months, he screamed most of the time and was very hard to settle. He never slept well and watching the TV was the only thing he would engage in. My younger brother has mild Asperger’s, so I was a little more open to the idea Sam had autism, but it was more difficult for my husband Steve to come to terms with.
When we received Sam’s diagnosis, I felt relief as I knew it meant we could start getting more help.We looked into so many different options in Bundaberg, but found AEIOU was suited to our needs as their complete focus was on children with autism. At that point, Sam was so out of control he was making himself sick with all the screaming. We were spending a fortune on occupational and speech therapy, so it was a major relief when he started AEIOU in 2016 aged two and a half.
When we first started, Sam hated us leaving of a morning so much he screamed the place down for about a month before he settled. It was very difficult, but looking back the progress we have made is just amazing. Sam’s communication has always been our biggest challenge and AEIOU has turned it into his greatest improvement. He can communicate most of his needs verbally now, such as ‘wee wee’ for toilet, ‘iusse’ for tissue and ‘drink’. The staff have shown Sam he can communicate with us without needing to scream. He is a very smart boy and once he figures out he can communicate verbally, I think we will be in lots of trouble!
The Bundaberg team has taught us so many valuable skills about how to deal with Sam to make life easier for everyone. We can go out in public, to a friend’s house or to the beach without worrying about what might happen. Sam is now toilet trained, a skill he picked up fairly quickly, thanks to AEIOU’s effective methods.
AEIOU has given us hope for Sam’s future. He has changed so much since starting last year and we’re always receiving comments on it. It’s the best decision we ever made.
To future AEIOU parents, I would say, as hard as it is in the beginning and those bad days that never seem to end, never stop believing or thinking your child is special. He or she will go beyond your expectations to achieve the impossible. It is also crucial to always listen to the advice your teachers and therapists give you and trust your instincts. Together you will achieve more than you can imagine.
Your gift this Christmas will last a lifetime.
Your gift this Christmas and continued support of AEIOU will mean that many more families can experience the joy of days out, with the knowledge their child has the skills to cope with a changing routine. They too will get to enjoy new experiences and the making of memories that will last forever.
Children who have access to AEIOU’s early intervention program develop life skills resulting in independence, community inclusion and improved job prospects. Your gift this year will ensure more children can access our program and receive the best possible start in life. Help us make sure all children have access to vital early intervention.
On behalf of the children who attend AEIOU, and their families, may we wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy 2018.