Building A Positive Future..

My name is Anthony and I’d like to share my family’s story with you. In May 2016 my wife Donna and I welcomed our first child, Vito to the world. It was a joyous occasion for us and the extended family.

St Anthony’s was about to undertake a total site redevelopment and were seeking a Project Manager to help bring their vision to life. I applied for the role and in September 2018 was advised that I was the successful candidate. While my plan was to help St Anthony’s realise their vision of a brand new site that would help to fulfill their mission of supporting children and families, fate would have it, that they would also be helping my family to achieve our goals.

When I first started at St Anthony’s, Vito was attending another childcare centre close to our home. After some time, the educators raised concerns about Vito’s behavioural patterns as he found it difficult to settle in each day and would become upset if there were too many people in the room. He also found it difficult to deal with changes in his routine, maintaining eye contact and was walking on his toes – all tell tale signs developmental delay.

After receiving this news, my wife and I started the process of working out how we could help our son make progress in his development. After visiting GP’s, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers and an educational and developmental psychologist, we were overwhelmed and confused about what the future held for our family and our son. In January 2019, Vito took part in a formal developmental assessment process and we were told that Vito would be diagnosed with level 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Knowing very little about ASD and how to best support our son, my wife and I began talking to my new work colleagues at St Anthony’s who happened to know all about ASD. With a diagnosis in-hand and a plan of action, Donna and I decided to enrol Vito into the childcare centre at St Anthony’s. We also spoke to the St Anthony’s Disability Services team who helped us secure an NDIS package for our son. This meant that we were now able to start accessing regular speech and occupational therapy sessions and Vito was able to attend a childcare centre that had great experience in meeting the additional needs of children with ASD.

The whole team at St Anthony’s were knowledgeable and professional and most of all gave us a real sense of belonging as they supported us through this challenging time in our lives. These colleagues quickly became our friends. Following several months of seeing a speech pathologist and accessing regular occupational therapy sessions, Vito is making amazing progress. St Anthony’s has been at the core of this team of early intervention specialists and we are blessed that we are part of such a wonderful organisation.

Within less than a year of intervention, Vito is now toilet trained, is able to feed himself, can follow routines and sits to complete tasks with educators. He also absolutely loves going to childcare and seeing his educators. My wife and I are often sent on our way by Vito with the message ‘good bye, I see you soon’. Now that the new Figtree Early Learning Centre is built and ready to welcome children and their families, we are extremely excited to watch as our son continues to grow and develop new skills.