Celebrating moments in life that others take for granted, especially at Christmas
This Christmas, I invite you to imagine a daily life where your ability to communicate verbally is taken away. “Explaining that you’re hungry, or tired, or in pain, or even being able to chat to a friend, is beyond your power. A dam-burst of ideas, memories, impulses and thoughts are cascading over you, and it’s unstoppable.
Now, your mind is in a room where twenty radios, all tuned to different stations, are blaring out music and voices. The radios have no volume controls, or off-switches, the room you’re in has no door or window, and relief will come only when you’re too exhausted to stay awake.
Colours and patterns swim and clamour for your attention. Your comfy jeans are now as scratchy as steel wool. The fabric softener in your sweater smells as strong as air freshener fired up your nostrils. The air conditioner is as deafening as an electric drill. However, your father – who’s right here in front of you – sounds as if he’s speaking to you through cellophane in fluent Cantonese.”*
At AEIOU, we help children overcome the overwhelming challenges they experience and help parents understand why their three year old is banging his head against the floor; or flapping his fingers in front of his eyes at high speed; or suffering from skin so sensitive that he couldn’t sit or lie down; or howling with grief for forty-five minutes when the Pingu DVD was too scratched for the DVD player to read it.
AEIOU meets inspirational parents who would do anything to give their children the best start in life. That’s why, when they receive an autism diagnosis, they enrol in AEIOU’s early intervention program.
I’d like to share with you the story of Jade Wengel, who with her husband, Rick, has two children, Lachlan and Zachary.
In 2012, Lachlan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and Mixed Receptive Expressive Language Disorder. In hindsight, Jade knew things were “different” with Lachlan at 18 months and in a way relieved to finally have someone other than herself to see it and to not be made to feel paranoid about her son’s development.
Jade said Lachlan’s ‘red flags’ included lack of speech and clarity, no social skills, lacked imaginative play, limited diet, sleeping issues, sensory issues (head /ears) disliked being touched (hugged/kissed), severe meltdowns resulting in self-harm, lack of comprehension, toileting issues, wouldn’t make eye contact, appeared to have hearing difficulties, and he was unable to display affection.
“Lachlan started part-time at AEIOU in July 2012 and accepted a full-time placement in January 2013. He is greatly enjoying his time there. He has made many amazing little friends and the progress he has made in the past year is simply amazing. So far this year Lachlan has met all of his Individual Education Plan goals (IEP), which is a huge deal for us. Not only has he met all these goals, he is now capable of attending mainstream school for Prep in 2014. Over a year ago, this was not a possibility. It just goes to show how with the right early intervention therapies for the individual child it really can work wonders,” Jade said.
“We’re so proud of how far Lachlan has come along in his development; it was more than we could have hoped for.”
What AEIOU gave Lachlan should not be a privilege for a child with autism. It should be, like a school education, a right for every child. Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
At AEIOU, we celebrate moments. We live to connect, and we invite you to do the same this Christmas. Imagine if you could give moments, not things, this holiday season. What would you exchange? A hug? Eye contact? Seeing your child understand the spirit of Christmas, rather than witness fear and uncertainty in their surroundings? There are thousands of children with autism in Australia and by supporting them to develop life skills that many of us take for granted, your gift will be one that lasts a lifetime.
Will you help children like Lachlan by supporting AEIOU Foundation to make early intervention possible for more children and change the course of their lives?
Please click here to make your tax deductible gift to AEIOU Foundation this Christmas. On behalf of all families in AEIOU centres, thank you for making a difference.
Best wishes for a safe and happy festive season and our sincere thanks for your support,
Alan Smith, CEO
PS. This year, you can give a gift with meaning through a donation or purchase of AEIOU Christmas gift cards, here https://aeiou.org.au/christmas.
*Our thanks to David Mitchell for his inspiring words – The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida
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