Ollie's Journey from Therapy to Graduation
Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/17/2017 - 08:12
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Graduating from Kindy
This story is shared with the permission and thanks to a mother from within our community, Emily Bell. You can follow Emily on her blog
And just like that.. my little man is graduating Kindy and ready to head into the big wide world of School! I knew this day was coming, yet it feels like it’s too soon.
We couldn’t be prouder of the little person our Oliver is becoming. Despite setbacks, diagnosis’ and difficulties, he has amazed us with his perseverance and determination. Yet the night of his Kindy Graduation still floors me!
If there is one thing Oliver doesn’t like and that is too many people around, and too many people looking at him. As I watched the families flow in and take their seats I wondered just how this was going to go down…
And so, his name was called, he walked down the aisle and to the stage. And to my absolute surprise he took the microphone and clearly said, ‘My name is Oliver, and I want to be a policeman’. You could have pushed me over with a feather. I had tears in my eyes and my heart was beating out of my chest. Did my boy, who has been diagnosed with Speech and Language Impairment, just do that? And then to follow that, he stood front and centre on the stage for two songs. He sung loud and did all of the actions. Who was this boy in front of me?
We celebrated the rest of the night while Oliver repeated to me… ‘you proud for me mum?’, ‘yes, I’m proud for you son’.
The following days, I took time to reflect on the journey that has brought us to this very point. And what a journey it has been. So, I thought I would share with you some of the key strategies I adopted that brought us to such a wonderful night of celebration… and of course so much excitement for the year to come.
Oliver was only 18mths old when we began observing something wasn’t exactly right. It was heart breaking to even consider. Everything in my mumma’s heart wanted to bury my head in the sand and come up when it was all ok. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The only way for our boy to reach his potential was for me to face it. I had to set my own heartbreak and fears aside and tackle this head on with the help of our GP, Paediatrician and Therapists.
The agonising meetings I have had to sit in and list off everything wrong with my precious boy, when all I want to do is scream from the roof tops everything that was right. To this day, when I think of these appointments, my heart still wells. They were exhausting. But they were necessary. I had to go through this to get Oliver all the help he deserved.
No one wants to hear their child has a diagnosis, but pretending they don’t won’t help you or them. One of the hardest jobs us mums have, is having to face the tough stuff!
In those very early days, I didn’t exactly know what we were facing. The greatest blessing was that I had a sister who was experienced in this and was willing to give me her honest feedback. To this day I am so grateful for her help and guidance.
From my own observations, and discussions I had with my sister, I spoke to our ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) about his language, or lack of. I was told that the public system won’t see children until they are 4 years old and to come back then. I left that office in shock, ‘I can’t wait that long’ I thought to myself. Considering the frustration he was already experiencing not being able to communicate, I couldn’t live with that for another 2 years!!
So I went on a search to find a Speech Therapist who would see a child at 2 years old – and that was a challenge. But I found one and started therapy right away.
At this time in my life my husband and I were running a successful company which meant I was working at least 4 days a week in the office and plenty of evenings at home. Our daughter was in Kindy and just finding her feet in the brave new world of school. Safe to say we had plenty on! But completing Oliver’s speech homework each week was a non-negotiable. Other things would have to wait so that we got through it. It was hard – no doubt about it. But to hear him speak now… is so worth it!
Trusting your gut
Once Oliver was diagnosed we switched up therapists so that we could access those connected to his funding. We started working with a group of therapists that were very nice, but after a couple of sessions, it just didn’t sit right. Then I received an email from Autism QLD about a therapist who would come to your child’s school or kindy. Once again, I was working nearly full time, so Oliver was at Kindy a few days a week. Appointments outside of this time were a challenge as he was already tired from his busy week.
I phoned this therapist and enquired what she could do. Once we made arrangements for weekly visits at Oliver’s school I saw drastic changes in him within a matter of weeks. I had found the therapist that Oliver gelled with!! I went ahead and cancelled all others… and focused our attention with her.
Therapies are expensive, whether you are paying for them personally or through funding. They are very expensive – don’t be afraid to go against the grain to suit your child. Find what works for you and them, and most of all, what gets results, and go for it!!
Educate Family & Friends
Find those people your child will spend a lot of time with and take time to explain to them the diagnosis and characteristics that might impact their ability to communicate or play with them.
So that birthday parties and BBQ’s are a pleasant experience, we have explained this to our friends and the reasons behind it so that they are educated, and in turn are able to educate their children. This means, when Ollie moves away the children know to carry on without him and he will re-join later. Now this does take some navigation from the parents at times, but when all the adults involved have some understanding of the reasons, it’s easily resolved and everyone has a wonderful day.
Something else I have seen merge from our openness with our friends, they understand it takes Ollie a little while to acknowledge people when he arrives or leaves. And I notice many of our friends patiently wait for him to realise it’s time to either say hello or say goodbye so his welcome or farewell isn’t missed. I must say when I see this happen it makes my heart so happy.
This is a difficult road to walk, but not one to walk alone. Reach out to friends and family for support. Access services available. Talk to your child’s teacher and don’t be afraid of their feedback. Look for every opportunity your child has in front of them, and there are many!! And while you’re doing this know it is because you are giving your child the greatest chance of success!