When Tristan was born in 2012, he was just like any other baby. But as he grew older, his parents knew he was different from his peers. They wondered why he was so restless, why he didn’t understand simple instructions and why he didn’t talk.
After a few years of questioning and plenty of ‘Dr Googling’, it didn’t come as a shock to his parents when he was formally diagnosed just before his third birthday with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Tristan’s dad, Alain remembers it was a pretty rough time.
“It was very stressful. You don’t want to believe it. Everyone just wants the best for their child.”
Alain read everything he could find to try and understand what an ASD diagnosis might mean for Tristan and his family. Based on the available scientific evidence, Tristan’s parents decided that ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) might be the most effective treatment for their son.
This treatment uses proven behavioural principles with the goal of either increasing or decreasing targeted behaviours. And as luck would have it, the Lizard Centre, not far from Tristan’s home offered him the chance to start an ABA program almost immediately.
Alain remembers very clearly his first meeting with a Lizard Centre staff member who encouraged him to think about ABA therapy as a marathon, not a sprint.
It turns out, this was perfect advice for Alain who gave up full time work to understand how ABA works and to support Tristan’s intensive program.
Alain will never forget how defeated he had felt before Tristan started at the Centre.
“He didn’t seem to understand anything. He couldn’t communicate with us which made it frustrating for us and for him…his behaviour was erratic and even violent.”
But through carefully tailored therapy, persistence and patience over many years, staff have helped Tristan to control his behaviour. This has helped with everything else. It’s meant that Tristan could concentrate on learning other important life skills including talking, toilet training, counting, writing and even riding a bike.
According to Alain, the most important thing about the Lizard Centre staff is that they never give up.
There was no improvement in Tristan’s speech for almost a year and a half after he began ABA, but when he started talking, Alain says it felt like a miracle. His first word was ‘stop’ followed by ‘no’ and not long afterwards, ‘papa’. You can imagine the tears; now Tristan is a regular little chatterbox!
Alain and his family cannot imagine life without the Lizard Centre.
“(The staff) have been amazing and in many ways, have become part of our family. They have been there for the good and bad times and have been so supportive in so many ways.”
Alain is incredibly proud of Tristan and his amazing work ethic. He has come so far that he is now enrolled in a mainstream school and will start grade one next year.
This is a huge victory for Tristan.
Like most parents, Alain and his wife just want the best for their child. They accept that Tristan will continue to face challenges, but they also want to encourage his talents. They want him to shine. So far, it’s become apparent that Tristan is great with numbers, has an unbelievable memory and an insatiable appetite for running, so watch this space!
Alain is an amazing dad; he reminds us all what really matters.
“It’s very important for every parent to never, ever lose faith in your child. Because all the hard work will come to fruition… our kids really are something special.”
For more information about the Lizard Centre and how we can help, please call us on 1300 829 590.