When Jay and Aydah were diagnosed on the autism spectrum, they were eight and four years old.
For their parents, the diagnosis meant finally having the tools and information they needed to support their children. It meant their children could access specialised therapy services. It meant there was no more guessing, they finally had the answers and support they had been needing for years.
For both siblings, the support they received as a result of their diagnoses was life-changing.
But for many families across Australia, the pathway to diagnosis presents challenges - either extensive waiting periods of up to 18 months in the public system, or an out-of-pocket cost that is upwards of $2,000 for a private assessment. For some families, this cost is an insurmountable challenge.
We believe every family should be able to access life-changing services for their children, regardless of their financial situation.
This is the power of your donation, every dollar goes directly towards funding an early autism diagnosis for young children who might otherwise get left behind.
Will you help give more children like Jay and Aydah the opportunities they deserve?
Please donate now.
Before their diagnoses, Jay and Aydah's lives were often filled with confusion and distress.
Social interactions were awkward for Jay. At school, he had a lot of difficulty making friends and found it hard to stay in the classroom for extended periods.
His little sister Aydah was also struggling with incredible sensitivity to noise and light. She would often cover her ears and become distressed. Sometimes, she would be inconsolable for hours.
Even the simplest family moment, such as a walk to the park with their parents, Brad and Anna, was often unpredictable.
“They would both cover their ears, even if a lawn mower was running, just to block out the noise,” recalls Anna. “Aydah would often cover her eyes because the light was too bright for her.”
Can you imagine how worried their parents would have been? Not understanding the reason for their children’s behaviour. Desperately wanting to make things better. Craving precious family moments, yet having no idea how they could even begin to support their children.
For many parents, their child’s diagnosis of autism is a gift of clarity. It gives them answers as to why their family has been struggling. It means a pathway forward for the family, with clear steps to finding the right support.
After years of struggling to regulate their emotions and grappling with sensory overload, a diagnosis of autism helped set the path straight.
The diagnosis allowed Jay to get the help of an Aspect Occupational Therapist both at home and at school, where he worked with visual resources and a positive behaviour plan to learn how to manage his emotional and sensory regulation issues.
After three years of therapy, Jay loves school and writing, and can perform many tasks unassisted. “He comes home proudly telling me what he has achieved that day,” says Anna. “It’s a huge turn around on how things could have been for him.”
Thanks to occupational therapy and speech therapy, Aydah is now engaged with her lessons at school and is no longer falling behind. Her personality is shining through, she is making friends, and has a much greater interest in the world around her.
For Brad and Anna, the changes they have seen in their children have been profound.
“Life without the diagnosis would have been much harder for all of us.” says Anna. “It’s really quite amazing that the support creates such obvious outcomes. Our children are enjoying life more now - they have good friends and are really proud of what they are achieving in school.”
Yet they can’t help but wonder how much easier life may have been for their children, had they received an earlier diagnosis. What benefits those extra years of support may have meant for their children’s development.
When it comes to autism, an early diagnosis is crucial. The sooner a child is diagnosed, the sooner they can access the specialised therapy and support they need to help them develop social and communications skills, make friends and build relationships.
Will you help give children like Jay and Aydah the moment of opportunity they deserve? Your gift today will help a family access early autism diagnostic services and the support they need to help their children thrive.