Our son Nicholas is 6 years old and has autism. Nic was diagnosed at 2 1/2. The diagnosing Doctor said our son was saverly Autistic. We were told he would likely never speak, would never be toilet trained and would likely never communicate with us or even respond to his name. I thought I was going Bristol into tear, be sick and yell at the doctor all at once. But in reality I just sat there gobsmacked.
We were given zero guidance on what the next steps we should take. Our world was flipped upside down and I felt lost and alone.
At the time he was non verbal, still in diapers full time, would only eat macaroni and cheese and hardly made eye contact.
Over the past several year Nic has worked super hard in speech, behavioural therapy and ABA. All of which have been exponential to the boy he has become.
During that time he learned to sign some words, use Picture Exchange Communication, and eventually got an electronic device with LAMP- words for life.
He was also in daycare and had many difficulties with the other children during play. He would hit people and pull hair. This wasnít done out of anger or misbehaviour but because it was the only way he could communicate. I would get called to the daycare daily. It was very difficult for both of us.
He went to kindergarten and was placed in a ďtypical ď class as the school deemed him to high functioning for a diagnostic class. We were very torn, as his social skills were very poor, he was still in diapers full time and couldnít communicate verbally, however his academics were above the kindergarten level.
*side note - just before her started school be was removed from the speech and behaviour program he was in as he would now be school age. The school was supposed to take over the speech aspect, however this never came to be.
By the grace of God our boy was placed in a classroom with a teacher who had 9 years ABA experience. This man was a true angel and will always hold a place in our hearts.
At this point we were still waiting for therapies and there was no end in sight.
My husband and I attended as many ASD parent classes as we could get our hands on well we waited for our son to move up the waitlist.
Our son continued on to senior kindergarten, again in the typical classroom, however this year he had a new teacher who had zero experience with exceptional children and was not equipped to handle Nicholas.
This made things quite difficult for him as well as a teacher because she did not know how to keep him focused. I sat in many many meetings with the principal and teachers, special education team, autism team and anybody else who would listen to me as I begged pleaded and cried for an assistant for my son and it was all to no avail.
He never received any additional supports and because of this he did not thrive within his classroom and he seemed to not be bringing home the same level of work he had the year before. The work that I knew he was capable of doing. By now he had become quite a verbal and constantly vocalized that he did not like school I did not want to go.
*side note- During SK ASD parents had banned together to protest against the Winn government in regards to ending therapies for children 6 and old
We won that fight.
My son started ABA 3 days a week. Itís was a great help to him and we seen him thrive and develop skill he hadnít had before.
At the end of senior kindergarten I made the decision to homeschool my son for grade one because the school continued to refuse to provide him with the assistance he needed to thrive and learn as he was capable of doing.
Now for present day- ASD parents are back at it again protesting. Fords new OAP is so damning to our little people. Nothing good can come from this. My boy is going to lose his 3 days a week after 2 weeks of service because thatís all his funding will cover under the new OAP.
Nic is now (VERY) verbal, fully toilet trained and of of diapers since the age of 4 1/2, and will look at people when spoken to.
He still has a long way to go socially. He will lick people (strangers included), struggles to understand social cues, continues to struggle with speech and I often needs me to translate what he has said to whom ever heís speaking to.
Itís been a long road and one often full of tears. And itís going to get harder as I will be putting him back in school again with zero support and with the new OAP Iím just not sure what will happen.
My child has has a difficult life (as so many ASD children do) during his 6years so far. Fordí s new OAP is only going to further the stress these amazing little loves will have to endure. Itís not right that funding be based on age, or income.
It should be based on need.
It should be based on what each individual childís needs are. It sickens me to think that as a human being anyone can look at a child and say ďwell your 6 so you donít need as muchĒ , ďhere have an iPad. Now your good to goĒ
And we want equity not equality.