On World Autism Awareness Day this year, the parents of a young Yooralla customer want to share their story and emphasise the importance of early intervention.
Mark and Rebecca said that many parents will notice “red flags” in their child’s behaviour and development early on but may delay seeing a doctor for many different reasons.
“It can be confronting to admit that your child is different and may have autism and some parents may be worried about the financial side of things too,” said Rebecca.
“But early intervention is absolutely critical in ensuring that your child has all the appropriate supports he or she needs, to be healthy and happy and to thrive, and that journey begins with a formal diagnosis,” said Mark.
Their son Finlay, who is now 11, was formally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was 3 years old.
“We were very lucky to have Yooralla in our corner from the very beginning,” said Rebecca.
“I was actually in a meeting with Carmel Browne, who was our Yooralla Key Worker at the time, when I received the phone call confirming Finlay’s formal diagnosis. Carmel was absolutely terrific and provided immense support to me when I felt so overwhelmed about the next steps. She also helped us with all the paperwork,” she said.
Carmel, who currently works as Yooralla’s Manager of Therapy and Wellbeing, Allied Services and Wellbeing - Inner East, said getting the right support early was vital.
“Early intervention is extremely important because during those early years of a child’s life, that’s when their brain is developing really quickly. It’s a time when the child is learning and developing faster than they ever will again,” she said.
Mark said that Carmel had a holistic approach and looked at Finlay’s life as a whole to ensure consistency.
“Carmel developed effective strategies and techniques we could use at home. She also worked with Finlay’s kindergarten teachers and later, school teachers, as well as his other social groups to ensure everyone in his life was well-equipped to support him.
Finlay is now supported by Yooralla’s Occupational Therapist, Kate Hill.
“Yooralla was and is the glue that holds everything together for our family. Finlay is a well-adjusted boy with good emotional awareness and lots of friends and attends a mainstream school. And we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without Yooralla,” said Mark.
World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated on 2 April each year aiming to increase the community’s awareness and understanding of ASD.
More than 200,000 Australians live with ASD, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.
For more information, you can speak to Yooralla on 03 9666 4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.