Joe was a challenging baby.
He needed a lot of time and attention. He never spoke until he was three, and then when he was four, he was diagnosed with autism.
It was around the time of Joe’s diagnosis that we could see him clearly wanting to play and interact with other children.
However, he would try and fail to get their attention, and that really knocked his confidence. their attention and that really knocked his confidence.
He realized that he couldn’t play the way he wanted to play, but the grown-ups could. And so, for a long time, Joe really gave up on kids and just played with grownups.
He is now six and he goes to the local primary school.
His speech, language and communication difficulties are assessed and monitored by a speech and language therapist who we got a referral for through our health visitor.
Joe goes to school, no problem. However, his ability to form relationships is obviously limited. So, he spends quite a lot of time on his own. Which, unfortunately, was something that happened to him in nursery too. So that was hard for him.
It’s also quite hard for us because we were not sure how we could help him work on these social skills.
When the opportunity arose for Joe to take part in some of the fun activities put on by the ‘Speech, Language and Communications Company’, we were really excited. They couldn’t have come at a better time.
We went along, Joe was shy at first, he chose to play on his own or with a member of staff.
But as we continued to go, and because it was the same faces of roughly the same age coming back every week, facing similar difficulties, he was starting to look around a bit more.
And he eventually worked up the courage to try and speak to one of the other children. And that was massive in comparison to where he had been just a year before that.
And I really think that’s down to the environment of the sessions. The staff are relaxed and there’s no pressure on him when he’s there.
If he wants to play one-on-one, he can, if he wants to try and play with another child, he’s got the ability to do that.
It’s really made his confidence skyrocket.
He still has his moments. He can throw some very impressive tantrums, but they are a lot less frequent, and they’re a lot easier to calm down
The main thing is that he’s willing again to try with children.
He’s not only learning social skills, he’s learning about making eye contact, sharing, taking turns – the things that transfer into his home life, and I imagine, his school life as well.
The ‘Speech, Language and Communication Company’ have not only helped Joe, but they came to us at a time when we were quite desperate.
We didn’t know any other families in a similar situation. So, we also felt quite lonely.
We have been given lots of helpful advice, attended all of the workshops and events put on by the ‘Family Support Program’ and being given the opportunity to meet with parents in a similar situation is like therapy.
It can be quite lonely when you don’t know anybody else facing a similar situation.
We have had to learn a lot about autism in order to support Joe as best we can as a family, and the ‘Speech, Language and Communication Company’ have really helped us with that. It’s been great.