Discovering your child is on the autism spectrum is just the first step in a life-long journey filled with thousands of questions and fears about your child missing out on the best possible life.
“Is there any hope for a bright future for my baby boy?”
Emily told us that this was the first question she asked through her tears when her 3-year-old son Charlie was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. It’s such a natural question. All parents want just one thing for their children: a bright, happy future where they reach their full potential and do the things they choose.
Charlie’s path to diagnosis began with Emily’s intuition. By the time Charlie was two years old she knew that something wasn’t quite right.
“If I asked Charlie a question like ‘Are you thirsty?’ he had absolutely no recognition that I had spoken,” explains Emily. “Yet he would become very distressed at sudden loud noises such as someone sneezing or laughing loudly.”
When Charlie was eventually diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Emily and her husband Tim’s hearts broke. Many of the dreams they’d had for their little boy evaporated then and there. But it wasn’t long before they started forming a new vision of their future and looking for answers for their myriad questions: What would Charlie’s life be like? What primary school would he go to? How would he cope? How would the whole family manage?
The extraordinary support of people like you has helped to transform Charlie’s life and his family’s.
“At the end of every day at his old mainstream school, I’d find Charlie in a lathered, anxious state. He’d been pushed to physical exhaustion just to cope with the demands of the classroom environment,” Emily told me. “We realised he needed a setting which enabled him to learn the curriculum in a class which catered for his individual needs. That’s when we started researching.”
The family’s research led them to Aspect, and in 2016 Charlie joined an Aspect satellite class. He’s one of six students supported by teachers Ashleigh and Stephanie.
“Aspect is amazing!” Emily told me with real pleasure. “Charlie’s a visual learner and he needs those visual cues to understand what’s going on, so when the teachers put together visuals for the days that we have family visiting, it changed everything. It’s so helpful.”
Charlie’s teachers have also been working with him so he can better understand his emotions and ways to express them. In his classroom, feelings and emotions are grouped and assigned colours. Then the meaning of each colour and feeling is explicitly taught so Charlie, and the rest of his class, understand how to identify a feeling and what they can do to self-regulate that feeling.
"The Aspect school offers hope to families who otherwise may despair at how to cope with the challenges that accompany having a child on the autism spectrum,” Emily told me. “Aspect is definitely a life-saving organisation.”
Charlie’s story is a wonderful example of how your support of Aspect means that the schools and satellite classes can do an extraordinary job to ensure children on the autism spectrum are not left behind. And, thanks to the kindness and generosity of people like you, we are also able to offer a wide range of services to people of all ages on the autism spectrum, their families, employers, friends and community.