Stephen is our only child. Just after Stephen’s 2nd birthday he was Diagnosed with ASD (autism). We were doing speech through another organisation, then enrolled in the Hanan More than Words program at Firstchance. After major results in this 12 week program I changed all my services to Firstchance and also was in a supported play group through Firstchance.

Firstchance has been there from the beginning of this journey as my son had the old school diagnosis of serve autism (told he would be non verbal and that this will be a very long journey). My son gave no eye contact, no words, major sensory issues, major behaviour issues, no sleep for years. Firstchance wasn’t just a place I went to lots, but they felt like my family. Dealing with a special needs child can be very draining and challenging and at times feels like your whole world is upside down. I felt no matter the issue, if Firstchance couldn’t help, they would find someone who could. Each and every staff member at Firstchance are clearly handpicked. They are firstly very well trained in their field but very caring and sensitive. And our family is forever grateful.

 

Stephen said his first word at four, ‘GO’...not a normal first word but what is normal about this journey. It’s a very interesting journey.

 

By the age of 4 we were using PECS (picture exchange cards) and Proloqu2go like a pro. We had a great sensory diet in place so Stephen could help regulate his body. Which meant sleep had improved a little and so did behaviour. Also being able to communicate his needs through the use of pictures helped behaviour a lot too.

Now Stephen is 7, in a multi-cat unit at school, but visits mainstream for maths as he needs to be challenged. He also hangs in mainstream playground at lunch time with an Aide. Stephen does have severe speech and language delay however a large vocabulary and has some sentences. But guess what? His best subject at school is ENGLISH. Imagine what he could do when these areas improve.

 

We now mix speech therapy at Firstchance and school. And recently participated in the “Kids Get Social’ social skills program Firstchance offered in a community setting. It truly boosted Stephen's confidence in approaching other children and also gave him the tools and words in these social settings to use.

 

I’m truly blown away everyday with things Stephen does. I am so very proud of his efforts. And so over the moon grateful for Firstchance.

A special mention to our therapy team, Carol and Alicia who have been with him from the beginning. I’m very grateful for your outstanding work and all you both have done for our family.