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Mattie was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of three. Roz, his mum, speaks about the changes Aspire has made to their family life.
“We noticed a few things that were different about Mattie from a young age. He played in an unusual way and always chose playing alone with a toy over playing with a child. He had no words by age two, and didn’t recognise his name.
It was very hard to encourage interaction with other children. We would go to friends’ houses for a playdate and Mattie would spend two hours trying to open a cupboard, or repeatedly slamming doors. It was terrible, but now I can understand why we weren’t ever asked back.
We set up an appointment with a paediatrician and he was immediately diagnosed as on the spectrum. We tried a few programs like Building Blocks and speech therapy, but Mattie found it hard to sit through any of them. Eventually, our speech therapist recommended Aspire.
We simply did not know what to do, so we invited them to meet Mattie. Dianne came over to our house and played with Mattie for a few hours. I asked if she would be able to help him and she said, ‘Yes, I can, because I know I can teach him’.
I thought that was interesting.
That night I watched Mattie eat his dinner with Dianne, and eat it like a perfect gentleman. For us, it was the most amazing breakthrough.
Mattie has had one three hour session a week and now some shadowing at school for the last three years. He is now at an average level academically in our local public school. He has lots of friends and is popular. I can also now give him directions (although he can still struggle with two or three step directions) and his fine and gross motor skills have undergone a major improvement. He used to have tantrums three to four times a day. But now his communication has improved so much, he no longer tantrums. He’s just a laid back little boy who takes everything in his stride.
Getting support from Aspire really helped with my parenting and confidence as a mum. Mattie is compliant and can get ready for school by himself, which means we have more time to ourselves. It’s definitely improved the family dynamic.
ABA has been the most effective thing for us and, depending on your situation, I would try to begin it as soon as you can. I thoroughly recommend Aspire, as engaging them has made a huge difference to our lives.”
Nicky was a two-year-old child without speech or eye-contact when she started intervention at Aspire. Nicky now goes to a mainstream school and is working on making long-lasting friendships.
“Nicky didn’t ever receive a formal diagnosis, despite numerous assessments and tests. The major signs that led us to seek a diagnosis were lack of eye contact and interaction from about the age of two months.
We knew very little about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). My perception has changed completely, as I’m now of the opinion that ASDs are not necessarily on the increase, we just didn’t have labels for them previously. Individuals were thought to be quirky, eccentric or a little different.
We came to Aspire as we had heard about their work. At the time, Aspire provided Nicky with in-home therapy every weekday from 18 months to four years old. During that time, we developed an amazing relationship with all Aspire’s therapists; they were like an extended family and we still keep in touch.
Working with Aspire made a huge difference to Nicky’s behaviour and understanding. She attends a mainstream school and doesn’t need any special support. Only some small issues now remain that we need to monitor, such as reading social cues and body language.
When she was little, our goal for her was that she would be able to go to a mainstream school without a shadow. Now that she’s achieved that, it’s more about her making strong friendships, having self belief and, ultimately, being happy.
My advice to anyone who has a child they think may have developmental delays is to trust your instincts and don’t delay in starting intervention. I found it easier not to participate in the therapy, as it’s stressful and emotional enough just being mum. That’s my own personal experience and everyone’s different, so be gentle on yourself and do what’s best for your family.
I’m so glad we found Aspire. The quality of their therapists is perhaps their single most defining factor.”
Alice, from Brisbane, sought Aspire’s services when Hugo was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at two years old. Aspire currently has clients in Sydney, rural NSW, Canberra and Brisbane.
“Hugo’s intervention began when we realised that some of the expected milestones for his age group were just not happening. He wasn’t up to speed with language and it was difficult to hold his attention. A friend of ours suggested we see a pediatrician; Hugo was immediately diagnosed with ASD.
We were provided with an overwhelming amount of free information and options for intervention therapies. The services are out there, but it was hard for us to know which places were better. Based upon another friend’s recommendation, we got in contact with Aspire.
At the time, I didn’t know much at all about ASD. I’m still learning every day, but finding Aspire made it seem a lot less scary. They were incredibly helpful. They provided us with support at home and also taught me and my husband how to encourage play, develop language and control tantrums. I’ve tried to emulate a lot of the techniques used by Hugo’s therapist, especially with regards to motivation. So much of it just helps your general skills as a parent, which has made me feel a lot more confident.
I do prefer the one-on-one intensive therapy that ABA provides, which is tailored to Hugo’s specific needs. In our opinion, the more exposure to therapy Hugo has, the more effective it has been. Even though we couldn’t do an intensive program, the eight hours of therapy he receives at home each week is making a huge difference.
It’s been incredible to watch Hugo progress with things he had struggled with before and see him connect the dots. He’s so much more compliant; he seeks me out, makes jokes, is laughing all the time, and we’re all much happier. His last assessment showed that his language is now within the average range. There are days where I’m amazed at the conversations I’m able to have with him.
We have high hopes for Hugo. As he continues to develop, the day he’ll be indistinguishable from his peers seems to be coming closer and closer. Now, I just try to take Hugo’s journey one day at a time, maximising consistency and routine. We’re much more positive about Hugo’s prospects and have returned to hoping that he’ll achieve all the things we wanted for him before he was diagnosed.”
*These testimonials are accurate statements of lived experience solicited from past clients.