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Taj’s Story as told by his Mother

It’s not easy finding out your child has a disability.   Whatever level or severity of disability, it is devastating.  Once your head has so called cleared a bit and accepted this news, you then can go and do the best you can to throw yourself into whatever is available to get the Early Intervention help that your child and family need to get them and yourself on your way to achieving the goals for your child.

Hello, my name is Melissa Puckeridge from Gerringong and my beautiful son Taj was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2½ years old.

I was lucky enough to be guided in the right direction straight away towards the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package.

Taj started Speech Therapy with a gorgeous lady named Gloria—I was also very lucky to get a placement for Taj with the AMAZING people at Noah’s Ark Centre in Nowra.

From the very start I was informed of all the help available to me from getting the FASCIA funding, workshops and counseling.  Everything I needed to start a step by step process of getting HCWA package for my son.

So, Taj started with group sessions which included the wonderful staff of speech therapists, occupational therapists and early childhood professionals observing the children at play.  There were about 4 children in this group which meant the children had one-on-one help and observation, which I found most impressive.  It was interesting to see how Taj was going to socialise with the other children considering they are all so different.

The therapists then played and tried different activities with motor skills and speech to work out the child’s strong and weak points so we could therefore make decisions on what programs would most benefit your child’s needs.  I found that with Taj, occupational therapy (OT) was one of my first choices as Taj had some gross motor skill problems and sensory issues.  I thought this would benefit Taj the most.  Hence, we found Fiona from Noah’s Ark.  Taj and Fiona instantly bonded which is very important.  Through only a few OT sessions I could see Taj wanting to play but not knowing how to come up with ideas himself.  Fiona guided me through some ideas until we found him starting to initiate play and coming up with ideas of his own, which also Taj started doing at preschool with neuro-typical children, Taj was actually starting to play purposefully with other children, sitting down at story time instead of wandering around by himself.

So by the time we finished our first lot of OT, Taj was playing in the sandpit with the other children at school.  This was an extreme joy to me as Taj’s sensory issues prevented him going to the beach and in the sandpit because of his aversion to sand.  Now we go the beach every week.

Taj is now 4 and we are in our 2nd lot of OT and Taj is up to the stage of saying 2 or more words together, getting very good at imaginative play with cars, trucks and getting dolls to kiss and talk to each other, something I never thought I’d see.  Taj is also at the stage of meaningful back and forth (sharing) play, he is having ideas of his own, following them through and feeling very accomplished and rewarded with fun, therefore building his confidence and trying new objectives instead of staying in his safe zone.

I have been blessed by getting pushed in the right direction towards the HCWA and to those involved in this wonderful program and to those who have helped me personally, I thank you with all my heart because now I can say that I am so proud to be a mother of an Autistic child and I wouldn’t want Taj any other way.  In fact my son has taught me a lesson or two about life and has changed me into a better person that I ever thought I could be.

A huge thank you to all who contribute to these early intervention programs,  your help, passion and love for these special children and their families will always be regarded with deep gratitude.

These children are our future too!