A Father’s Story
Benny was a bright, intelligent baby who could say mummy and daddy as well as approximately 150 words by the time he was 18 months. He made eye contact, smiled, laughed and played, and interacted. He attended playgroup as happily as any other child. He ticked off all the landmarks such as crawling, walking and talking and loved reading books and going to the park.
As he approached his second birthday my wife Gab and I noticed some worrying signs.
Soon he lost many of his words, wasn't making eye contact. He didn't respond to his name or people with either a smile or a wave and he wasn't interested in playing with other children.
As Gab is a teacher she has come across a number of kids with autism and knew some of the signs. When assessing signs of a child who may have autism he ticked nearly every box.
Benny's behaviour got worse and he withdrew more and more. As Gab was working, I was his carer and I soon felt like a prisoner in our own home. He didn't want to leave the house and would scream and have enormous meltdowns if you tried to force the issue. He wouldn't engage with Gab at all. In fact he would cry and say "Bye Bye Mumma.” It was his way of saying I only want to be with Daddy. This was heartbreaking for Gab, and from my, perhaps selfish perspective, it was also a burden for me as I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without him getting upset.
This was a very dark period in our lives. Gab and I were constantly tired and at our wits end and we felt very alone. So began our long and arduous attempt to get a diagnosis and then appropriate therapy.
When you begin researching autism the one continual message you come across is that research suggests the most effective in treatment is EARLY INTERVENTION and a MINIMUM OF 20 HOURS THERAPY A WEEK.
After exploring different options Gab found Little Souls. We flew up to the Gold Coast for an interview and were immediately comforted and impressed by their knowledge, attitude and the amazing facilities they had to offer. Gab, her amazing mum Angela, without whose help we wouldn't be here, and Benny flew up to the Gold Coast in December last year. I drove our car up a week later.
It was a bitter sweet moment, very exciting but also tinged with sadness to be leaving and being separated for a week. I'll never forget sitting in our car outside our house watching Gab come out and load Benny in our friend's car to go to the airport. I couldn't even say goodbye to them as Benny would have been too upset to leave me, even though he had no idea where they were going. So I had to hide and watch from a distance.
Finally it was Benny's first day at Little Souls. We were extremely scared and anxious about how he would react to being left with strangers for the first time in his life. After some initial resistance, he settled in and we were pleasantly surprised that despite the odd tear or two he was fine.
We saw immediate results. He had improvements in language, eye contact and ability to follow instructions. He was simply happier, less anxious and more engaged. He now sings and dances and waves and acknowledges people. His therapists are teaching him skills that are taken for granted for typically developing kids but are foreign to kids with autism.
We have fortnightly meetings which keep us informed of his progress and Gab also participates in his therapy once a week. With the staff’s experience and knowledge they really have all bases covered and no stone is left unturned to give our kids the best opportunity to succeed. That's why we've moved 1700 kms to give Benny not only the best therapy available but the best care.
Our lives have already dramatically improved from that cold, wet, dark and lonely Melbourne Winter of last year. We don't know where Benny will get to but we now have plenty of hope that he will reach his full potential. We have Little Souls to thank for that.