Your caring generosity can make a life changing difference to children with autism
$250 can provide a classsroom
with reading books to help
imagination and reading skills
$500 could provide a child with a
PODD Communicaton book to
help give a child a voice
$1000 contributes to
playground equipment in
a centre to build social skills
How your impact makes a difference
Unlocking potential and forging a future
When Ollie was two years of age, he wasn't talking or even attempting to. He never answered to his name, he never made eye contact, he never wanted to play with me - he just always wanted to be by himself, he wasn't meeting his milestones and he was not like peers his age. I knew something was different about him so I started to research, while we were waiting for our paediatric assessment, and everything I read pointed in the direction of him having autism. And, it was correct.
To be honest, that diagnosis was a relief because, to me, it meant there was a valid reason as to why Ollie wasn't meeting his milestones and it was nothing I had done or not as a parent. I realise at the time, for the most part I blamed myself for Ollie’s differences in development. I was also relieved because his diagnosis was a quick and easy process and it meant I could get him the help he needed as soon as I possibly could.
For Ollie, early intervention has given him independence and the confidence to complete tasks that were impossible for him to do beforehand. Overall, it has given him a better quality of life because without the persistence and guidance from AEIOU, there's no way I could have achieved any of that without them.
Early intervention has given our family strategies we can now all use everyday to help Ollie function better at home and in a community setting. It has ultimately given us our true little Ollie back who we always knew was there but we just didn't have the right keys to unlock... but AEIOU did.
They hold the keys to our success. With everything we have learnt at AEIOU, and continue to learn, we have hope for the future. We are incredibly blessed to have found AEIOU, they are our life savers!
"This is something that was only a dream before starting at AEIOU”
The road to Blair’s autism diagnosis wasn’t an easy one. When Blair was diagnosed, our paediatrician told me to get out my phone and write ‘AEIOU’. When I had a moment in the weeks to come, he wanted me to Google it because he believed it would be the right fit for Blair.
That night, once everyone was asleep, I began my searches. I read everything I possibly could on autism. I felt like I needed to educate myself so that I could be the best possible support for Blair. Then, I remembered the note: AEIOU. I sent them a message that night and received a call the next day.
After all the consultations, trying to understand about her challenges and endless hours exploring supports, we were finally able to enrol Blair at AEIOU. She started in August of last year, at the Bald Hills centre.
This February, our little family set off for a much-needed holiday, reuniting with family in Newcastle after a long year of lockdowns and border closures. We’d planned to go for two weeks...
As I recalled the reality of previous holiday attempts, I was overcome by my nerves. I wondered, "How would Blair go in the car for long periods of time? Would she handle visiting new people she wasn't familiar with? Would all the new sights, sounds and places overwhelm her? Would she sleep in a new place? Would we be able to relax and enjoy the holiday?"
To our amazement, Blair embraced every experience on the holiday with ease! She slept through each night in the new place, went out to dinner with our extended family, played with her cousins in the house and played with all the kids from the street in her cousin's front yard.
If you look closely in the photos, you can spy with your little eye Blair's pink blanket. It's her comfort and wherever she goes, exciting or routine, so does the blanket. You'd better believe Blair’s pink blanket made this momentous trip with her!
This is something that would have only been a dream before AEIOU.
“You walk the journey alone. Until you get to AEIOU”
As a friend once said to me, autism is a marathon, not a sprint. Our outcomes so far have been a continuous upward gain, rather than explosive shift. While I think every family hopes for that dramatic overnight transformation, there is so much satisfaction in the small achievements which change your family’s life a little more every day. Success is also finding someone who can help you to both understand your child and learn how to be the parent they need. AEIOU has consistently provided our family with direction, strategies and hope for the future.
As they say, two is company, three is a party! That was my motto when we decided to have our third baby. Our perfect little Freddie met all his early milestones and we were kept busy caring for our young, energetic family. Then at 18 months, I began to have concerns and realised that being the same parent I was to my two other children was not what Freddie needed. It became more than just delayed speech. He no longer ran to the door to greet my husband when he came home from work. He would shy from social interaction, had an odd obsession with sticks and was also a ‘runner’. It was a very difficult journey to the stage of an official diagnosis. On the day of the appointment, I wore a blue dress, as a sign of acceptance.
I was initially relieved when Freddie was diagnosed as it gave a rationale for his challenging behaviour and would allow us to access the help we needed. But that relief was followed by grief. Our futures were now difficult to predict and it was painful to know that despite both of us working professionally in the medical field, we could not “fix” our child. After we left the paediatrician’s office, we drove directly to our closest AEIOU centre. When I was asked when our child had been diagnosed, I broke down in tears with my letter from the paediatrician written only 30 minutes earlier. While we waited for a place to become available, every minute of his life became an opportunity for therapy. Meanwhile, I wished to meet a family with a child exactly the same as mine so I could ask them what worked and almost see into the future, but I felt that would never happen. You walk the journey alone. Until you get to AEIOU.
Freddie started with AEIOU just before his third birthday. The staff were warm, reassuring and not perplexed at all by the information I told them about my child. To me Freddie was incredibly vulnerable as he could speak but only a handful of words, wasn’t toilet trained and tapped his face with sticks or similar objects constantly. But the teachers and therapists made me feel safe and included and helped our family in countless ways. They quickly turned his obsession with sticks to an advantage and within months, Freddie was toilet trained, would sit down for all his meals and began using more and more words. He has now learnt to walk and hold hands, something that makes life easier for our family every day. He can sing, dance and is extremely agile. He regularly tells me he loves me, which are words I longed for. The constant improvement in Freddie’s ability to learn, speak, play and independently care for himself since beginning AEIOU cannot be undervalued. They have just given our family so much.