On August 10th, 2010 I became the mother of a beautiful daughter who we named Kierlyn. Born at 32 weeks she was as strong as a child born at full-term and came into this world without a sound. I was always confused and curious as to why she never cried in the first year of her life. As time went on she was showing signs of late development in a lot of her milestones. In the first 2 years of her life she never made a sound, did not crawl until the age of one, would not respond to her name or make eye contact. She would shake her hands and seemed more interested in how an object worked than playing with it. We knew there was something wrong but at the time was unaware what autism was.
By the age of two we decided to bring her to our family doctor who recommended that we see a psychiatrist to determine whether or not her symptoms were related to autism. Within a few months we finally had an appointment through Emerging Minds. As we had suspected, our Kierlyn was surely on the spectrum. We were told that it would be possible that she would never speak unless we started therapy right away but it would become difficult for me as I had become a single parent relying on social assistance for income. This is where OAC became a huge part in our lives.
After a year's wait I finally recieved a call from OCTC (Ottawa Children's Treatment Center) for an assessment to determine Kierlyn's needs. In no time she started speech and occupational therapy for 2 hours each week. She had started to engage with others and show much improvement in her development. She started to make sounds and communicate with us by pointing and baby sign language. It was incredible how quickly she caught on to everything! At the age of four she was enrolled in public school for JK. She was assessed and it was determined that she would be starting school in the autism program. Her therapies would then continue through the school board.
Even though she no longer needed the therapies at OCTC, there were many other things we needed financial help with. We would meet with a case worker every year to determine Kierlyn's needs.
Kierlyn is now eight years old and in grade three, still in the autism program. She now speaks in full sentences and communicates extremely well! She engages with other children and is very well behaved! She expresses all of her emotions and catches on to new experiences with flying colors! Every day she surprises me with how intelligent she really is! She is a miracle!
With all of the changes to the funding through our government, other families will not have the chance to witness their autistic child meet the needs they require. The autism spectrum is incredibly broad and each child is different. An eight year old may require more help than a four year old with autism so to determine how much financial help is required by age is just wrong! Why is that older child's needs less important? They shouldn't be! Let us stand together as parents and fight for our children who NEED someone to be their voice! Please sign the petition and write to your MPP!