Without the right support, children like Sienna can miss out on the chance to achieve their goals and live the life they choose.
Leanne and Andrew have a video of their daughter Sienna as a baby, crawling around saying “Dad, Dad, Dad”. It was one of those moments parents treasure. Their beautiful little girl was crawling and starting to speak.
But soon after this video was shot, Sienna’s development halted. And it wasn’t until Sienna was four years old that Leanne heard her daughter say “Mum.”
Sienna was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age two. Leanne remembers the moment she saw the diagnosis written down for the first time. She was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. On one hand, it explained a lot about Sienna’s behaviour, but on the other hand, it felt like the life she’d imagined for her daughter was no longer possible. Suddenly, Sienna’s future was so unclear.
“We had so many questions,” Leanne recalls. “And no matter how much I read about autism, it still didn’t answer my questions, because every case was different!”
Leanne is right. Everyone on the autism spectrum is different. That’s why it’s so vital that children like Sienna can access education and support that’s tailored to each child’s individual needs and strengths.
Without this support, children like Sienna can get left out and left behind. They can miss out on the chance to be the best version of themselves.
Before Sienna was old enough for school, she accessed speech and occupational therapy through Aspect, and attended Aspect’s Early Childhood Supports program. These services helped her build foundational skills in speech and social interaction and prepared her for the transition into school.
When Sienna started at her Aspect School in 2016, she thrived.
She made her first friends, who she is still friends with today. Her speech improved enormously. Now, instead of only communicating to request things, she can express her thoughts and tell her parents who she wants to spend time with. She now asks to see Nan and Pop, which means so much to the family.
“Watching the relationship that Sienna has with her Nanny and Poppy and her uncles and Aunty is very moving,” said Leanne. “To see her affection for them is so nice.”
Aspect Schools and satellite classes focus not only on academic skills but on a range of vital life skills too, including social skills, emotion regulation and the ability to cope in changing environments. This holistic approach extends beyond the classroom, helping children like Sienna to thrive at home, in everyday life, and into future.
It’s clear that the positive and personalised approach to learning at Aspect Schools and satellite classes can change the life of a child and their whole family. But sadly, there are still children like Sienna who are missing out.
Our resources are stretched and it is increasingly difficult to keep up with the
demand. That’s why I need your help today.
Currently, around 1 in 70 Australians are on the spectrum. As awareness of autism increases and diagnostic tools are refined, more children are being diagnosed every year.
The need for autism-specific schools and support services is growing rapidly and each year, nearly 2,000 families with a newly diagnosed child reach out to Aspect for help.
Together, we can make sure families like Sienna’s don’t miss out. We can create a world where no-one on the autism spectrum is left behind.