Our son, Jack, was a difficult baby and required a lot of attention from us which was difficult to keep up with everything else.
Our Health Visitor made a referral to a Speech and Language Therapist at the age of 2.
Jack didn’t speak at all until the age of 3, he was ‘non-verbal’, and at 4 he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Now he can speak in not quite full sentences of about 2 to 3 words. It’s still a struggle for him to communicate so Jack tried to avoid it as much as possible unless directly asked a question.
This causes him to be isolated in Primary School and was the same in Nursery.
It is heart-breaking as we can see that he tries reaching out to his peers but fails to keep their attention.
He finds it difficult to play with other children, take turns, and wants to play ‘his way’.
After trying and not managing to socialise with others, Jack chooses to play with the adults who seem to understand what he wants and how he wants to play.
As a Mum, it is a heartache to say no to playing with Jack at home sometimes when I have other things to do. I realise I am ultimately his only friend.
We received an invitation to try out the SLCo Brick and Story Clubs which came at the right time.
We hoped that playing with children of a similar age and situation, would encourage Jack to try socialising again. We also hoped a different environment and new people would have a positive impact on him.
At first, Jack only played by himself or with the staff but started to say a few words to the other children and try to find a connection with them instead.
I think what helped settle Jack into the Club is that it’s not too big and has the same kids of a similar age coming to it every week.
Seeing his new Club friends once a week has really helped Jack learn new skills and join in with his peers more.
He is trying again which is a big relief. Being able to play with the other children is making him happy, you can see it on his face.
He has made a lot of progress since starting Brick Club and he has improved in turn-taking, making eye contact and sharing.
Jack has also started using more words more often.
He seems excited to go to the Club every week and ‘talks’ about the other children.
It is great that he can explore interacting with his peers in a relaxed, gentle and nurturing environment.
Going to the SLCo Club has also had a positive impact on Jack’s school and home life. He has been developing the skills he will need for the future.
Jack’s relationship with his big sister has improved significantly since going to the Club.
His big sister says they can now play together even if it’s for a short time which really helps me get things done around the house and was missing from our family life.
Jack can still sometimes revert to back to loud screams and ‘meltdowns’ but they are less often and can now be calmed quicker.
After a year and half of attending Brick Club we have more hope for the future.
We also feel less isolated knowing that other families go through similar situations.
Attending some of the SLCo Family Support Programme events has empowered us and we feel we now know more about ASD and how to support Jack better.
Speaking to the other parents at Brick and Story Club over coffee every Saturday is also very therapeutic, this helped me realise that I was not alone after meeting other families who had a child with ASD.
Our whole family is working together to support Jack and we are more hopeful about his future now.