A parent kindly shared these words about how Mary-Margaret, Natasha and the F.A.C.T.S charity have helped her and her family with her son's ASD diagnosis.
Our family life was turned upside down in February, when the whole family contracted COVID,
although none of us were too sick, we noticed some major change in our eight-year-old.
He refused to eat or go to school and generally did not want to leave the house.
He began to suffer with high levels of anxiety, it was a struggle to get him to go anywhere.
He always wanted at least one of his parents with him and his behaviour really started to change, he was having major meltdowns and he even nearly got knocked down by a car on two separate occasions, during his meltdowns.
He lost a lot of weight, and his general health was really suffering.
We genuinely did not know what has happening, as prior to February he had generally been a happy child and rarely missed a day of school.
I went to the doctor to try and seek help, he was admitted to hospital as he was not eating, but we learnt that the waiting lists to get help for a child of this age could take up to 6 months, we knew that we could not wait that long, as no matter what we tried we could not convince him to eat and most days it was a struggle to get him dressed.
We eventually got him seen with CAMHS, around April time - they had pushed him to near the top of the list due to his weight loss.
We had an appointment with them every two weeks.
It was during these appointments that we first started considering, that he may have ASD.
Although we had seen some signs in his younger years, we were not too worried as he was generally a happy child.
It was after the first time that he nearly got knocked down, that one of my friends made me aware of FACTS, I contacted Margaret immediately as I was pulling my hair out by this stage.
I have to say the support that she gave me right from the start, is what has kept us going for the last few months.
FACTS funded a weekly counselling session for him, and Margaret was always at the end of the phone if I needed any advice.
The counsellor came out to the house for his first few sessions, as he had a fear of travelling in cars,
as he thought he would get travel sick.
There was no more trying to convince him for three to four hours to leave the house to go see CAMHS.
When she arrived at the house, she interacted with him straight away and he was happy to sit with her for his sessions, we were delighted after the first session and could begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Margaret and Natasha also came out to meet with myself and my husband, as I am not ashamed to say we were really struggling to keep the family going, we were all under immense pressure. I have to say that the support they have given us is what has kept us sane.
They explained the use of visuals and what we could expect over the months to come.
Natasha has sent me a wealth of information that has proved to be so beneficial.
I have enrolled in a few courses that she recommended and gradually introduced the visuals to him
I cannot believe the change in my son, since we started using these.
It is no longer a battle to get him to do the normal things like getting dressed or cleaning his teeth etc and to be honest it did
not take too much time for him to get used to them
We began to see small changes in him at first, after his sessions with the counsellor, using the visuals and with the information that FACTS provided the whole family now understands ASD better and how we need to deal with things if we are to help our son.
Both Margaret and Natasha are always at the end of the phone if we need support.
I am delighted with the progress that he has made, he is now nearly back to the wee man he was in
February. I truly believe that he will return to school in September, he is now back to eating foods
that he has not touched since February, and he has picked his guitar up for the first time in months
He is excited about going back to school and we are delighted that we are getting our wee man back