Bruce and Nurit Thompson have generously shared the journey of their son Ori who has been an Aspect student at the Port Macquarie Satellite class from K – 10. They are extremely proud of Ori who is about to embark on a very special event, his graduation! Here is Ori’s story…
Ori (which in Hebrew means my light) was a beautiful baby. He gave us so much joy. He was reaching all of his milestones. But when he was a year old we started to worry as all of the other kids we knew were pointing, talking and playing. Ori paced and wanted to spin things. He has no interest in what other kids were doing.
The pediatrician who diagnosed Ori at 20 months of age said he would be non-verbal for life and we should I quote “Get used to it.” Thank goodness we did our own research and found support. It’s been a constant journey of autism education since that day. The results have been spectacular and we now have a young man with a bright future and great hopes of employment and independence.
We live in a regional area where autism specific services were hard to find. So, you can imagine my excitement when in 2009 I heard an Aspect school class was about to open in Port Macquarie. I felt this could be Ori’s big chance in life. It was pure joy when we found out that Ori had been given a place in that Aspect class as one of the school’s foundation students. Seeing him in his school uniform for the first time was certainly a memorable moment.
Fast forward to December 2022 and he is now about to graduate!
Tell me about Ori – what are his likes? Any special interest areas?
Ori has always had an interest in numbers. Even from an early age at the Aspect school his teachers were amazed at how quickly he could multiply or add up large numbers. We had seen this years earlier. When he was about 2 years old and had no language, but he was adding up numbers in the bath with those wet stick on numbers you can buy. As soon as he learned to count to ten he started doing maths on his own. It’s just hard wired into his brain I guess. His other great loves are cars and computers. He can tell you just about every car make, model, year and country of manufacture of any car you show him. He loves technology and computers and has done afternoon courses where he has broken down, repaired and even built his own computer. That is his future.
What has been some highlights for Ori during his schooling experience?
Too many to list but I’ll try.
- He went to school his first day and could only speak about 5 words. He can home that day with 2 new words. Needless to say, we were impressed.
- I used to work with Aspect coordinator Tamara at the Glasshouse Arts Centre. I followed her education journey from Uni through work experience at the Rockpool school to employment there, hoping all the time she would eventually be Ori’s teacher one year. Ended up she was!
- As amazing as Tamara was, all of Ori’s teachers through his whole Aspect journey have been incredible. We are very hands on parents when it comes to our children’s education and we loved the constant feedback from his teachers. They really seemed to care and Ori was very much enjoying going to school.
What are Ori’s plans, hopes and dreams for the future?
Ori has been enrolled in Port Macquarie TAFE next year to study Certificate 3 in Information Technology. The people at TAFE have been amazing and are incredibly inclusive. Nurit and I both work multiple jobs so Ori will be assisted by one of his amazing long term carers for the first month with the goal of him eventually attending TAFE alone. Once Ori has his qualification we are hoping he may secure employment with either a business requiring a part time IT position, or possibly starting his own computer repair or game design business. He may go on to do more courses at TAFE also.
Ori has also been volunteering every Tuesday this year at the Port Macquarie library. Ori will continue to do this post Aspect and with the Council recently releasing its inclusion policy we are confident Ori may eventually secure a paid casual position at the library a few shifts per week.
Would you recommend Aspect to other families?
Absolutely! I cannot recommend Aspect highly enough. It is simply the best resource and education a child on the spectrum could hope for. Importantly it also puts the minds of very stressed parents at ease.
What else would you like to share about Ori’s schooling experience?
We are very proud that Ori is the first (and last remaining) foundation student of Aspect to go right through the entire primary and high school system to year 10. It has been an amazing journey and I can’t speak highly enough of the school and Aspect.
Thank you, Aspect staff, from the bottom of our hearts. You are amazing and truly making a positive difference to the lives of children on the spectrum. We will miss you!