Our Little Learners centre, via a fundraising committee, is doing its best to create awareness and assistance through as much exposure as possible. If you read on, thanks for taking the time to do so.
As many of you may know, my son Bailey was diagnosed with autism at 2 and a half. My wife Michelle has experienced this in her family and was devastated with the news. It took me some time to understand what autism means for those effected and their families, but the impact is significant.
For those with autism, it is a lifelong condition. There is no known cure and it will never go away. Children with autism become adults with autism. Autism effects people in different ways, but it is a very isolating affliction, where social comprehension, interaction and communication is severely affected.
Given that the brain is most able to be moulded at an early age, early detection and intervention gives the best result in breaking through some of the barriers and deficiencies by those on "the spectrum". The longer someone with autism goes without intervention, the isolation and social disengagement multiplies. The fact that about 80% of life skills are learned by social interaction, either watching, listening or engaging with others highlights the major problem with a late diagnosis. By the time a child is 6 or 7, so much irreversible damage is already done. Unfortunately the average age for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is 5.
Applied Behaviour therapy (ABA) is the best known treatment for Autism. It is a play based, reward therapy which requires 1 on 1 interaction between a patient and their therapist between 5 and 7 hours per day. The therapies are coordinated by a specialist psychologist to achieve outcomes that most children get from normal social engagement.
Our son Bailey attends Little Learners Autism program in North Melbourne. It is one of three such centres in Melbourne for children aged between 2 and 6. Our centre has 11 other children. Bailey attends 4 days a week from 9.30 to 4.00 and receives comprehensive therapy during this time. Unfortunately with my business based in Shepparton, I spend quite some time apart from my family and with another one on the way, will miss a lot of our new arrival's first couple of years. But as I'm sure you would agree, you do whatever is needed to help out your kids.
Bailey has been attending since October last year. I can't begin to express how gracious I am to be involved with this program. His development has been great. He makes a lot of eye contact and his communication is improving significantly. The therapy costs $70,000 per child per annum. (there is one family with twins there!!). There is little to no government assistance. To this end the parents of the centre formed a fundraising group to enable some form of subsidisation and allow us to keep the dream alive for our kids.
Our hope is to raise enough funds to pay a month fees for each of the 12 children who attend so approximately $72,000. The parents have set up a team for Run Melbourne on July 27th, 2014. Whilst we would encourage as many people to join us on the run to promote awareness, our predominant drive is to fundraise.
We are looking to secure some corporate sponsors as well as individual donations to support our cause.
Should you be able to assist either with a pledge of support either directly via email or on our everyday hero fundraising page to which I provide the below link, we would be more grateful than you could ever know.
Please email your pledge to firstname.lastname@example.org
and we can tailor something to promote your business. We would be pleased to be gifted items to auction off as an alternative to cash.
Facebook likes and messages of support (like and share our page or write a post on our wall)
Director, Plus 1 Group