12-year-old Hannah is one of those children whose life was turned around thanks to the help of passionate people like you. Today, Hannah feels confident and optimistic. She likes karate, riding her scooter, drawing cartoons, and unicorns – and she is leading the kind of life a young person should.
But before she received the specialised help from Aspect that she needed, Hannah endured a level of stress and anxiety that no child should ever have to experience.
Hannah’s parents Nicole and Leigh suspected their daughter was on the autism spectrum when Hannah was still very young. Hannah displayed repetitive behaviours, an obsession with certain objects, and she would get very upset when these were out of reach. But when the family sought medical advice, Hannah was misdiagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – not just once, but multiple times… and by a number of different professionals.
This presented additional and heartbreaking struggles for Hannah and her family; because when you don’t have the right diagnosis, you can’t get the right help. Hannah suffered from this misdiagnosis every day. At pre-school and at school, no one understood what she was going through; they couldn’t make sense of her behaviours and actions, which only made things worse for Hannah.
It was a traumatising time. Nicole knew that something was going on with her daughter, but she just didn’t know how to help her, because she had been given the wrong information from the people that she had trusted.
Many children on the autism spectrum don’t cope in a mainstream school environment – they need expert, tailored educational support.
When Hannah was finally diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, Nicole says it was a huge relief. But sadly, whilst Hannah was still at her mainstream school, things got worse before they got better.
Because Hannah wasn’t getting the specialised support she needed, she didn’t know how to express herself or communicate effectively with her teachers and her peers. It was an incredibly traumatic time for her. This left her feeling increasingly isolated and caused immense frustration. As a result, she often acted out inappropriately, which was interpreted as naughty behaviour and she was singled out for being disruptive. Hannah’s anxiety continued after school; she frequently had meltdowns after coming home. Hannah simply wasn’t coping, and it took an ever-growing toll on the little girl’s wellbeing – and that of her family.
One day last year, after years of struggling, Nicole uttered five fateful words: “We can’t do it anymore.”
They took Hannah out of school, and told her teachers that she wasn’t coming back. As you can imagine, it was a scary moment for Nicole and Leigh, who wanted their daughter to make the most of her talents and potential, and knew that education was the way to do so.
They feared for their daughter’s future, and rightly so. Hannah was at the point at which many children on the autism spectrum are left behind, because they don’t have the help they need.
Thankfully, she wasn’t – because incredible people like you ensured that Hannah had somewhere to go. Somewhere she was understood and given the opportunity to learn.
In term 3 of Year 5, Hannah transitioned to an Aspect satellite class, a safe learning environment where she received individualised, autism-specific one-to-one support. Her life, and that of her family, took a miraculous turn – almost immediately.
“Hannah wanted to go to school suddenly, she wanted to learn. I will never forget what she said during her first week in an Aspect class. She said, ‘Mum, I am just like the other kids in my class’. I cried tears of joy,” remembers Nicole.
Satellite classes are taught by qualified teachers like Alison, who are trained to carefully assess each child’s skill development and individual needs, and use this knowledge to find the best way to help children on the spectrum thrive.
Aspect satellite classes are an essential part of our quest to create a world in which every child on the spectrum is being given the opportunities they deserve. And they are only possible with your support.
Hannah has attended an Aspect satellite class for a year now. She finally feels like she belongs, and feels like she can be herself - and it’s done wonders for her confidence and academic achievements.
She has also made friends in the mainstream school, and developed a kind and nurturing personality that is drawing lots of younger children to her – children who are looking to Hannah for help and support, which she willingly gives.
These children have such amazing skills and potential, and we rely on generous people like you to help them realise it.
This is why it’s so important that they receive highly individualised educational support. Please help us continue to offer our life-changing services and programs, so that children like Hannah don’t get left behind.