The Gale Family
Our first-born son Lachlan was developing faster than some of the kids in my mother’s group. Then as we started to come up to his second birthday, things started going backwards. We lived in Sydney when we received the diagnosis and it set in motion some huge life changes for our family.
When Lachlan was 18 months old, he would make eye contact and was pointing, talking, everything that was expected for his age. As he started to drop off on a few things, we were naturally concerned. We asked his daycare to monitor him and we were soon called in for a meeting. They suggested a paediatrician because they suspected he was on the spectrum. Perplexed, I said, what’s that?
As we lived in Sydney, it was naturally a long wait until we could see a paediatrician. During that time, Lachlan had a birthday party and there was another child there who was so much more engaging. A family member of Lachlan’s asked how old the child was and was shocked to find out he was a full year younger.
We didn’t want to waste time so we were already seeing a speech therapist when Lachlan was diagnosed by the paediatrician. What followed was a year of doctors’ appointments and therapy. We threw ourselves into every program we could but I couldn’t shake the feeling it wasn’t enough.
I first heard about AEIOU through a Facebook group but we were nearly 1000km away from the nearest centre. We looked on the website and read the family stories where the children sounded just like Lachlan.
We had only recently built our dream home in Sydney but when the prospect of a job came up in Brisbane for my husband, AEIOU became a real possibility.
Soon after, we flew up to Brisbane with Lachlan and his younger sister Indiana and had an interview at the Bray Park centre. Despite the wonderful facilities and friendly staff, I couldn’t help but feeling overwhelmed and sad. I remember thinking; we shouldn’t have to do this for our kid! No parent should.
When we were offered a place we knew we had to do whatever it took to make this work for Lachlan and even in hindsight, I’d still make the same decision a million times over.
We sold our dream home, came up to Queensland and moved in with family, while my husband continued to commute to Sydney each week for work.
Our lives have changed since we walked through the doors at AEIOU. Lachlan’s not talking yet, but there is hope. He’s using PECS, which has been a huge achievement for him to be able to communicate with us, even simple things like asking for dinner. It is letting him connect with us in a way we never thought possible.
Lachlan is now almost completely toilet-trained, which is a complete turnaround from our initial fears he would be going to school in nappies.
Through the program, I’m learning so much more about my child. I feel like I’m able to re-connect with him. It is unlocking doors for us as a family.
AEIOU truly feels like family. The parents are so welcoming and the staff are amazing. They want to celebrate every single little success with you.
Lachlan is now at Nathan and has one more year with AEIOU in 2016. We feel so safe here and now can’t imagine the prospect of leaving to transition to school.
Autism is so uncertain. You just don’t know what you’re going to get. But it is much easier to cope when you feel well-supported and assured you’re giving your child the very best on offer.
By Sami Gale
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