The Innes Family
Sam’s development for his first 18 months was similar to his two older siblings, however we soon became concerned his speech development and motor skills were not progressing at the same rate. Added to this were rigid behaviours and social stress, often highlighted by tantrums or running away when family came to visit.
Many people suggested it was probably just Sam being a boy and developing at little more slowly. We began working with a speech pathologist assuming it could be merely a speech delay which could remedy itself over time. However, the progress was tedious and we soon started looking at other options.
At 2 ½, we took Sam for an initial visit with a paediatrician but were met with a very clinical approach and no clear advice. A few months later we saw a developmental paediatrician who quickly provided us with an ASD diagnosis. Although it was something we had suspected, the words thrust us into a state of what can only be called grief.
The path ahead was confusing and confronting with no clear direction. Overwhelmingly, our research highlighted AEIOU was the best path for us to travel down and so we enrolled.
Sam started a few months later. In the early days, Sam lacked the basic skills like toileting, grooming and dressing and shied from social interaction with children or adults. He also suffered from separation anxiety which made every drop-off extremely difficult. His speech was limited to less than 10 words and he struggled to follow the simple instructions.
Without doubt, our first and still our most lasting impression of AEIOU has been the teachers, therapists and learning facilitators whose dedication, persistence and words of hope were a pillar of strength in some very trying times. They have also gifted us with great tools and strategies which we continue to use in everyday life.
Simple things like independently toileting were achieved in a matter of weeks, something we had been working on for months. Sam’s ability to communicate more effectively was achieved and this led to a reduction of meltdowns. We put PECS to use actively in the first year which allowed us to provide routine and clear instructions for Sam.
Importantly, Sam became excited to come to AEIOU and started forming friendships. Today we see a loveable little boy who now seeks social interaction rather than solitude.
Sam has now successfully transitioned to mainstream school and although we still have challenges ahead, AEIOU has allowed us to break shackles we thought would be in place forever and given us confidence to deal with the future. Every child has the potential to contribute to society in a way that meets their ability and with AEIOU, we found a key that unleashed this potential in ways which seemed impossible.
To other families who find themselves walking a similar path, we’d encourage you to talk about your child’s autism diagnosis with someone. We all cope differently, but it is important for your child’s wellbeing and your own state of mind to communicate these feelings effectively so ultimately you can share the ups and downs of the journey together.Back to Stories
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