The ultimate challenge for any kid with autism is to be able to navigate a game of football with his mainstream peers.
My son Milo’s love of football is equal to any other young boy – to have regular opportunities to practise skills alongside other players and most importantly, his desire to be recognised as being an integral part of the team with all the social interactions including acceptance from others.
As a parent, I know that without Milo’s Early Intervention Programme (ABA) and the ongoing support and commitment from his team of tutors in those early years, Milo would not be thriving in a mainstream setting.
As a three year old, Milo had severe language and communication difficulties, an intolerance to any social setting , obsessive and ritualistic behaviours and tantrumming throughout the day. Any sort of social existence for us as a family became intolerable. ABA provided Milo with a highly individualised approach, which addressed his deficits – rewarding appropriate behaviour whilst redirecting negative, anti-social patterns.
For my family, ABA directly changed the course of our lives and Milo’s long-term outcome. It can, and does enable children to access a mainstream education equipped with the right care plan and resources to ensure that they can meet their full potential within a mainstream environment. Without the intervention of ABA, children may simply withdraw from society or find themselves placed in institutions, which care for them but where they cannot reach their full social, emotional and educational potential.
Through Milo’s programme, I became aware of so many other parents with children with autism who were unable to fund the expenses that come with an ABA programme and so The Playhouse Foundation, a charity which offers bursaries to deliver ABA home programmes to young children with autism was launched!
At The Playhouse Foundation, we offer each family a consultant and team of tutors to deliver an ABA programme in the home using lots of early play-based skills to engage and motivate young children. We also recognise the difficulties facing parents who, coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis, are often experiencing confusion and frustration. We provide an advisor skilled in the process of applying for an Educational Health Care Plan – essential for accessing the right provision for children as they enter primary school.
Our Foundation relies heavily on the support of the community and fund-raising opportunities. The Winchester Half Marathon is a great event to be able to raise more funds in order to support more children.
Thanks to the support and commitment of our runners this year, Phil Husband, Nick Marsh and Toby Wales, we are able to offer more families this life-changing provision – great job guys!