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Every family is unique, but the one thing the families in our service have in common is that they have the opportunity to turn to AEIOU, and gain support and guidence. The most extradinary aspect to our program is that we have the ability to make a difference to their lives.
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Therese and David Hogarth are a regular couple, who happen to have two children who have autism: William who is five and Emily who is three. They are very proud of their children, who have both achieved so much.
Here is part of their story. You can read more about William and Emily by visiting our child profile page. If you would like to help to support families like the Hogarth’s, please donate to our Winter Appeal today.
"The week before my 30th birthday I gave birth to our oldest son, Oscar, who was stillborn. It was incredibly hard and after some time, we decided to try again. You can imagine that when William arrived, he was absolutely adored. My hospital room was overflowing with flowers, gifts, messages, visitors and love from family and friends who had given us so much support.
Despite this, though, from day one, William was a difficult baby, but he was just who he was, and it wasn’t until I was eight months pregnant with Emily, that William’s childcare teacher pulled us aside and told us he wasn’t hitting his milestones…he wasn’t engaging with other children at childcare, and when I arrived early to pick him up I would see him just wandering around the perimeter of the playground. He was in his own world.
Around the time Emily was born, we began to take William to doctors to seek advice and therapy, which ultimately led to William’s autism diagnosis. It was a long and difficult process, more so because Emily was a newborn and we were surviving on little sleep and the fear of the unknown.
We had heard of AEIOU Foundation and enrolled William for full-time early intervention. We were delighted when we received a placement. Once we got to AEIOU, I was able to take a step back.
That’s when I began to pay more attention to Emily …By the time she was 12 months old I noticed that she wasn’t waving, nodding her head, pointing, or using any other non-verbal gestures. When she was 18 months old, we knew there was a problem because she hadn’t started talking. Because of AEIOU, I knew more about autism and how to manage. We helped Will with therapy at home, and I began to use PECS (Picture Exchange Card System) with Emily, and she began to communicate with us that way. This significantly alleviated her anxiety.
We were able to receive an earlier autism diagnosis for Emily, and as a result, she started at AEIOU at an earlier age than Will did and she’s developing new skills faster.
It’s difficult when you receive a diagnosis. While it’s not a physical loss of a child, like when we lost Oscar, you still lose your hopes and dreams for the future. Often you don’t even realise it, but everyone has expectations for their children like they’ll talk, make friends, drive a car and have a regular school experience. For that reason, and many others, Autism affects parents profoundly too
It’s very important to ask for help and be open to receiving it. We have a great support network, and with the help of the team at AEIOU, we’re slowly figuring it out, day by day. We may not know what the future holds, but we know that we will support them to be the best they can be, and that AEIOU has helped them to establish important foundations for their future.
With AEIOU’s help, Will has been toilet trained, and has transitioned to school. He can communicate verbally, and he can play with other children. It is amazing for me to see that he is making his own friends at school. Emily has found her voice and loves to sing, and has charmed everybody in her class at AEIOU.
I have a wonderful husband who works incredibly hard for us so we can provide the support our children need, and great family and friends who, unbelievably, are still there for us despite the ongoing drama.
We are finally “Mum” and “Dad”. Hearing that for the first time was the ultimate ‘WOW’ moment … I was a mother for four years before I got to hear that.
Our situation might be difficult, but I want people to know that there are great days and moments too. We’re so proud of Will and Em and everything they achieve. I am particularly proud of their sibling relationship… My hope for Will and Emily is for them to be happy, confident and productive members of society in their own way. We have no preconceived ideas: we’re just focussed on getting to know them for who they are.