Sean & Kayden's Story
“You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not raising your child well. You’re a bad parent.”
This is what was said to Rebecca when she went to see specialist after specialist, expressing concern about her young son, Sean.
When Sean was just a baby, Rebecca could see that something wasn’t right. She had to be very careful when picking him up or laying him down, because the slightest movement would make him cry. As Sean got older, the alarm bells rang louder. He wasn’t speaking, and he wasn’t interested in playing with children’s toys. He didn’t seem to understand what anyone said to him – even his mum.
“It was awful,” Rebecca says, “saying things to try and make my little boy smile, but just seeing this blank face look up at me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, so I took him to several specialists. But they all put it down to me being a new mum and not knowing how to be a parent.”
When he was four, Sean was eventually diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Rebecca’s first port of call was Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). Although Rebecca felt relief that someone had finally recognised that something was wrong, it was a terrifying time:
“It really felt like a darkness had descended over my family. I just couldn’t see a way forward. But Aspect were so supportive from the start. They understood what I was going through, and they helped me see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
By lighting up the path ahead, by showing that there is a way through the darkness, we also help parents feel much less isolated and overwhelmed.
You can imagine how hard it must have been for Rebecca. But that was only the beginning of her family’s journey. Rebecca had another son, Kayden, who was also diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when he was two.
“Things were very different, but equally as challenging, with Kayden” says Rebecca. “He needed to be wrapped up all the time, even in 40 degree heat. He got anxious unless he felt the blanket on his skin. And Kayden never liked playing with other children. His idea of fun was taking a spoon, digging a hole in the yard and sitting in it on his own.”
As soon as Rebecca made contact with us, we were able to support her and her two boys. Sean received occupational therapy, psychology and speech therapy from Aspect – and the changes in him are incredible.
“Sean used to really struggle at school and wouldn’t do any numeracy work without making a fuss. But today he does three maths sessions a week, and he has a real gift for numbers. He’s also so aware of other people, always looking out for his friends and his younger brother. He’s a gentleman – the kind of young man who holds a car door open for a lady.”
Kayden on the other hand, is just starting on his journey, but thanks to the generous support of people like you, we can ensure he gets the therapy he needs to flourish, starting with our Early Intervention Readiness Program, so that he gets the best start in life, ready to start school when he is old enough.
No parent should ever feel how Rebecca was made to feel – like they’re doing a bad job or struggling alone. So we make sure that they are reassured and supported – understanding how best to raise a child on the spectrum, and knowing that they don’t have to do it alone.
By giving a gift today, you can ensure that children on the spectrum - just like Sean and Kayden - have the opportunity to flourish and live fulfilling lives within the community, and every parent can see a light at the end of the tunnel after an autism diagnosis. Thank you very much for your kindness.