Autism is a condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others and experiences their environment. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning the range of difficulties people may experience, and the degree to which they are affected, will vary.
When Jamisen was diagnosed with Autism in January last year, his mum Jordyn struggled with conflicting emotions. Initially she breathed a huge sigh of relief, finally having found an answer for his behaviour, but this quickly turned to fear as she wondered what this might mean for her son’s future.
At the time of his diagnosis, Jamisen was acting out, unable to regulate his emotions, not sleeping and struggling with a heightened sensitivity to clothing and certain textures.
Today, thanks to an array of early intervention services by Spear and Arrow, including various behaviour therapies and the support of his family, Jamisen is a thriving 7 year old!
In the year since his diagnosis, Jamisen has improved upon the many challenging behaviours that had been manifesting in his early years and continues to work on them. Perhaps more importantly, his family has learned that his diagnosis is not something to be feared, but rather embraced so that his unique gifts can be channelled during his life journey to reaching his full potential.
Learn more about Jamisen’s Autism Journey in this Q&A with his mum
What were your initial thoughts when you received the news about Jamisen’s Autism Diagnosis?
The initial thought that ran through my head was relief. I finally had an answer. I had been tearing my hair out for months, seeing various physicians, just trying to get to the bottom of why Jamisen would act the way he did. So when I finally had an answer, it felt like a weight had been lifted.
However, that initial relief quickly turned to fear. Like any parent, who’s just been told their child has a diagnosis for a developmental condition, I began to worry, “What will this mean for him growing up?” I knew how some people could react to certain behaviours when uneducated on things like Autism. I worried how people would treat him, how he would make friends at school.
What are some of the challenging behaviours and life aspects that Jamisen has struggled with?
Jamisen has always displayed some behavioural tendencies. Leaving the house has always been a bit difficult for him and he does not enjoy change. He also struggles with day to day tasks such as getting dressed and going to the bathroom on his own.
Sleep has also been a big concern. At the moment Jamisen cannot fall asleep without medication. This is definitely something we are working on and hope will be able to stop in the future.
But perhaps the most difficult aspect, from a parent’s point of view, is the fact that despite being such a caring boy who desperately wants friends, he regularly struggles with interpreting and implementing social cues. While he has come such a long way with this since seeing Chantelle at Spear and Arrow, more improvement will be necessary for him to reach his full potential.
How did you work to modify or allow for these behaviours?
The first thing I did was research all about Autism. What I discovered from that was, the single most effective thing we could do was behavioural therapy. So I quickly did a call out to all of my friends and someone put me in touch with Spear and Arrow.
With the help of Chantelle, Jamisen started undergoing Positive Support and Social and Emotional Learning sessions with the goal of achieving the compounding benefits of early intervention. All I can say is, what a difference it has made!
What changes and developments have been achieved through partnering with Spear and Arrow?
Not only has Jamisen learned various techniques to regulate his emotions and behaviour, he’s learned to be more social and make friends. Just the other day he was invited to a birthday party of a child from his school – something most parents wouldn’t think twice about. But this was an invitation he had earned all by himself, not because I had to ask the parents if he could attend, but because the child wanted him there. While it seems like such a small thing, it was huge for us.
Since Jamisen began therapy with Chantelle, I have been able to watch him thrive and develop into the intelligent and creative young boy that he is. The small tasks that I used to dread, such as leaving the house, have become so much easier. She has also taught me to be a lot more aware of the challenges that Jamisen is facing and given me strategies to deal with them.
Chantelle has really taken the time to get to know Jamisen and uses his interests to connect with him. This has definitely made him more responsive and eager to learn.
The improvements we are seeing in Jamisen are a walking testament to Chantelle and the crucial importance of intervening early with behavioural therapies and educational supports.
What advice would you give to parents or caregivers in similar situations?
For parents who are still looking for answers I would say trust your gut and persist.
Before Jamisen’s diagnosis I visited so many doctors who wouldn’t listen that I almost gave up. It was only because I persisted and advocated for my child that we finally got an answer.
Then I would say research – understand more about their diagnosis and then find resources such as the NDIS or support services such as Spear and Arrow to help. Educating myself on Autism and ways to treat this diagnosis went a long way in easing my fears. You don’t have to view your child’s diagnosis as a tragedy. Children who are on the spectrum have such an extraordinary and unique outlook on the world that it is a privilege as his mum to watch him navigate his way through it.
We can help
If you have a child who would benefit from personalised behaviour and therapeutic support, get in touch today. With over 20 years experience in education supporting learning, disabilities and well-being, the team here at Spear and Arrow would love to help.