Victoria & Jamie
Hi Irabina parents,
When our family arrived in Melbourne from the UK, not long after our 3 year old son Jamie was diagnosed with ASD, we were still coming to terms with the news – let alone setting up a life on the other side of the world.
Although it was not a surprise that Jamie, now 4 and a half, was on the spectrum the news still came as a shock. The UK medical system discharged us because we were moving abroad – we just remember the paediatrician handing us a few leaflets but neither of us really took in what she said. As soon as the verdict was delivered it was like hearing everything under water as we struggled to take it in.
So after 3 months in what felt like ‘autism limbo’, we hit the ground running when we arrived here. Being introduced to a lovely pre-school field officer in the first few weeks of being in Melbourne felt like a miracle. She explained the medical and educational system in Victoria with regards to ASD; although we knew before we arrived that we wouldn’t be eligible for much funding as we are not Australian citizens or residents, she mentioned the Early Childhood Intervention Service (ECIS) and recommended a paediatrician, who specialises in ASD. Thanks to her recommendation our paediatrician linked us up with an excellent speech therapist, who has since moved to work at Irabina, and we’ve followed her here! Word of mouth also found us our fabulous occupational therapist. Jamie loves his visits to both the OT and our speechie! His language has improved significantly over the last year and we are learning more and more about how to help him stay regulated and calm. Most of the time he is such an affectionate, fun loving and energetic child – he’s certainly teaching us about parenthood!
The last piece of our personal jigsaw puzzle was being offered a place at Irabina via ECIS. Initially we saw one of the wonderful psychologists who advised on how to handle some of Jamie’s behaviours. And for the last two terms Jamie has been enjoying a weekly playgroup at Irabina where the highly dedicated team has been helping with everything from trying to get him to sit through mat time to encouraging him to keep his shoes and socks on during a session – all valuable stuff as he heads towards primary school.
We also tried our first Irabina Auskick season which saw Jamie graduate from zero interest in footie, and trying to run off the pitch much of the time, to being able to kick the ball – with a little encouragement. Each of these small but significant steps in his development give us hope for a happy and promising future and we feel very lucky to be in Australia to see them.