Jayden was a healthy baby who reached all his developmental milestones within normal timeframes. While other babies around him had ear infections, reflux or common colds, Jayden was always robust; fit as a fiddle. And he rarely cried – his parents couldn’t believe their luck.
But as he got older, his mum Dina wondered if she was doing something wrong. She questioned her own parenting abilities and sometimes wondered if she was a bad mother.
Why do other families have three or four children when I feel fully booked already?
Then, quite by accident, when Jayden was two and they were living in Switzerland, Dina saw something on television about autistic children’s fascination with spinning objects. She thought immediately – that’s Jayden. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was right. Jayden was autistic and it wasn’t until she moved back to Australia that he was formally diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) just before he turned three.
This was just the beginning of trying to find the best speech and occupational therapists to help Jayden. But this was a very difficult process because at the time Jayden didn’t adjust well to new situations, he was non-verbal, he was very physically strong, had terrible tantrums and mealtimes were impossible.
Just like many children with ASD, Jayden’s eating habits are really challenging.
It’s a nightmare to be honest, sometimes I could just cry.
Although it’s better now, when he was a toddler, Jayden wouldn’t eat anything unless it was piping hot. And his parents couldn’t just re-heat his meal in the microwave. Dina says it had to look freshly cooked – all the time.
And Jayden has very strong food preferences. For example, he will only eat oven-baked shoestring fries that have been bought from the supermarket.
Jayden looks at each [of them] and obviously some of them don’t have the right shape. The lengths shouldn’t be too long and of course they must be crispy. And if they are not right, he just doesn’t eat them. It’s quite a philosophy about how those fries should look.
This might be related to his sensory sensitivities, food and routine preferences or preoccupations with food types. Or it could also be a combination of these.
Regardless, it wasn’t until his parents employed a nanny who was also an ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) therapist that his parents began to realise things could be very different for their family. Unlike all the other therapists Jayden had seen, this ABA therapist changed all the rules of the game.
She could get him to do things which nobody else could get him to do.
This was a real turning point for Dina who immediately decided to enrol Jayden in her local Lizard Centre where this incredible therapist also worked.
Jayden has been attending the Lizard Centre for 17 months now and has made amazing progress during that time. His behaviour is much less rigid, he is no longer violent, he has found his voice, he tries different foods and he’s much more engaged with the world around him.
He is excited to go to preschool and see friends. And he was excited on his birthday. He was excited about his presents…I was the happiest person.
Jayden’s mum is a passionate advocate for ABA and the work of the Lizard Centre. She says Jayden’s therapy is awesome because it is designed to build a solid foundation for lifelong learning.
The supervisors know exactly when to modify Jayden’s program at exactly the right time.
Dina can’t wait to see how her creative little boy will blossom when he begins the exciting transition into school next year. He has a wonderful visual memory, is incredible with numbers and has an excellent vocabulary so she believes he will do very well.
Dina is so grateful she discovered ABA when Jayden was so young. This early intervention in his life has made such a big difference.
I know for myself, I gave this child the best start in life. I will never regret anything. I will never say I wished I had [done more]…you have to do it early.
For more information about the Lizard Centre and how we can help, please call us on 1300 829 590.