Ben is an outgoing, cheeky and mischievous 4 ½ year old boy whose sheer determination has helped him and his family to achieve some major developmental milestones. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder 18 months ago, Ben’s family feel blessed to have found Kids Are Kids! Therapy and Education Centre to support them on their journey.
Vanessa Lawton, Ben’s mother, says Ben has come such a long way. “Ben’s progress in the last 6 months has made a significant difference in his ability to socialise, to make requests and to communicate. He was having frequent meltdowns with lots of distressing head banging due to not being verbal, and that was very stressful on our family – now he is calmer and happier as he has the ability to communicate his needs and feelings more effectively. Twelve months ago he was unable to say ‘Mum’; now he can, and that’s an unbelievable feeling as a parent”, she said.
The Proloquo2Go program is a communication tool designed specifically for individuals with limited or no verbal communication skills. By integrating the communication device into Ben’s therapy program, and implementing it across his home, school and therapy environments, Ben has been able to learn quickly. He is now speaking in sentences with and without his device and as a result, his meltdowns have reduced considerably.
Alex Enright, Senior Speech Pathologist at Kids Are Kids! says Ben has made significant progress this year across all of his goals. “We use visual schedules to increase Ben’s ability to attend to task and follow the direction of others. We are working on expressive language, following instructions and attending to task. It has been very rewarding to see Ben come so far in such a short time”.
The Sensory Xploration Hub at Kids Are Kids! also plays a large role in Ben’s therapy by motivating him and providing him with further opportunity to use his communication device to express his needs. Alex Enright said the state of the art sensory facility helps him to perform and focus during his session, as well as teaching him to use his communication device to request highly desirable items in the Hub.
Next year Ben will be ready for Pre-Primary at his local school Endeavour Primary School, Port Kennedy. “With the school visits from Kids Are Kids!, Ben’s Education Assistants and Teacher have been able to utilise the therapeutic strategies in the school environment and that really has helped Ben. Ben’s teachers are thrilled with his development both in the classroom and the playground”, said Vanessa.
Ben’s Parents, Vanessa and Rob, are excited about working on more goals for Ben in the future. “We now know what Ben is capable of; it is his sense of pride in himself when he succeeds at something that fuels us to keep going. Continuing to work with Kids Are Kids! to help him develop a bright and safe future is so fulfilling, and we can’t thank the team enough for what has been achieved so far”, said Vanessa.
To read more stories in The West Australian’s ‘International Day of People with Disabilities’ feature. Click here for the online version.