You never forget the date your child is diagnosed with a lifelong condition. My daughter Heera was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on November 22, 2017, a date that forever changed our life. A few months before her second birthday, we noticed she wasn’t reaching several milestones expected at her age. Our family visited our pediatrician to discuss and inquire about the signs we noticed. Heera was having a difficult time hearing us, she was often distracted, and there was a lack of eye contact and name recognition. As a parent, there are certain gut feelings you can’t shake off. We knew there was something different in her behaviour that we needed to address. After several assessments with our pediatrician, we were referred to ErinoakKids, a centre for child development.
We had spent almost a year lost, with a lack of answers and more than our fair share of confusion and frustration. We were at a loss in what next steps to take to give Heera the right opportunities to help her live her best life as a kid. This all changed when we met with the staff at ErinoakKids. Talking to the staff lifted a weight off our shoulders. They walked us through a personalized plan made for Heera. Our family has been involved every step of the way and in all major decisions to support Heera’s development.
ErinoakKids provided Heera with speech therapy sessions where she developed eye contact, learned language through scripting, improved her communication skills, and became more socially interactive with other children, which has been so rewarding to watch. We have received services through the Essential Foundations program that gave us access to a clinician who visited our home twice a week and worked with Heera to strengthen her skills in the environment she was most comfortable in – our home. Even now, she continues to receive support as she is currently enrolled in the ABA classroom where she is able to learn group readiness skills and build on the skills she previously learned. The group setting promotes socialization and her ability to generalize her skills to her peers. Personalized visits from our clinician and supportive conversations with the staff have given us, as parents, the critical and developmental skills we need to support Heera in our everyday routines at home and outside.
Throughout our journey, ErinoakKids has felt like our extended family, there with us every step of the way. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve offered us contactless Virtual Care support online or safe and distanced on-site support at their centre. We recently chose to resume services in centre, and Heera has loved being back on site to see her clinician and her friends, in a safe manner. Heera’s communication skills have excelled due to her early diagnosis, her enrollment at ErinoakKids and getting her the right support. We are grateful for the passionate clinicians and therapists, who have provided a safe haven for Heera and thousands of other children who need the support and resources to help them succeed in life. Because of ErinoakKids, Heera’s future is so much brighter.