Article by Krystal Sellers
HONOURED: Strive for Autism's public officer Alan Baird and president Maxine Baird with the group's award for Community Event of the Year at Cessnock's 2017 Australia Day awards.
Ten years ago this month, a support group for families of people with autism spectrum disorders held its first meeting in Cessnock.
Since then, Strive for Autism has helped to provide support for such families, and raise much-needed awareness of the lifelong developmental condition that can affect communication, sensory perception, social interactions and behaviour.
Strive for Autism president Maxine Baird said the group’s meetings provide information and support, and a forum for families with questions and stories to share.
The group presents annual awards to participating schools to acknowledge the hard work and achievements of students with ASD and their teachers.
It also raises funds to support local schools, sporting groups and individuals.
“Thanks to the support of our community and the generosity of our sponsors we have been able to provide many resources over the last 10 years,” Mrs Baird said.
The donations have included iPads, computers and grants to help educate children on the autism spectrum.
Strive’s regular fundraising events include an annual shopping weekend bus trip to Sydney. This year’s was the eighth shopping trip, and raised $4050.
Strive has won two Australia Day awards for Community Event of the Year – the first for its Sounds of the Spectrum concert in 2010.
The concert was held at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre to a sold-out crowd of over 460 people.
Mrs Baird said it was an unforgettable event.
“We raised over $20,000 and gave our community an insight to autism,” she said.
“It is important that we create awareness as it’s not always an easy road for people on the spectrum.”
The seminar featured renowned speakers Dr Lee Sturgeon, Rachel Lee Harris and Jeanette Purkis.
“Their great expertise and understanding has helped to improve the awareness and support for families and individuals living with autism in our local community,” Mrs Baird said.
Dr Sturgeon, a clinical psychologist, is now an ambassador for Strive.
He said support groups such as Strive are essential in mobilising families to support other families with members with autism spectrum disorders.
“One aspect of current best practice for families with children with an ASD is to engage themselves with local community services and supports,” Dr Sturgeon said.
“Strive greatly assists families to meet this goal in the Lower Hunter region.
“I have been involved with Strive now for ten years and congratulate them on their accomplishments to date and wish them every success in their future ASD-related endeavours.”
Strive for Autism’s 10th anniversary dinner will be held at Cessnock Golf Club on Tuesday, November 14 at 6.30pm. The guest speakers will be Tim and Judy Sharp.
The cost for the dinner is $35 per person. RSVP is required by November 6. Contact Maxine on 0419 913 033 for more information.
Find out more at www.striveforautism.org.au.
Another Fabulous Article. - Thanks Krystal Sellars for the write up.
Shane from Cessnock Ambos today presented Maxine with a cheque for $1045. Thank you once again for your ongoing support, the money was raised from a Bowls Day held on the 1st August!
Cessnock Quilters and Embroiderers Support Strive
Following their recent very successful exhibition, “A Gathering of Threads”, president Cath Boughton presented a cheque for $5,000 to Strive representative, Kylie Whiting. The Cessnock Strive organisation supports families coping with autism and Kylie informed the members that the funds donated would be used to support and encourage the students in their education. A cheque for $2,000 was also presented to the management of Cessnock Civic Indoor Sports Centre, the venue for the exhibition, with thanks for their outstanding support of Cessnock Quilters and Embroiderers.
Our Annual bus trip is not too far away! We're scheduled to climb on board and hit the shops on 14th-15th October 2017! If you haven't already secure your tickets and for more info visit the BUS TRIP page for more details
This poem was sent to STRIVE, Poem by Rebecca Tuckey Muswellbrook, year 9 student.
I have a brother
His name is John
He is Autistic and artistic with shaving cream
He loves to dream about the Wiggles and likes to giggle
He is sneaky and cheeky
He is funny and cuddly as a bunny
John loves Hi 5 it makes him jive
I’m in the middle, Cassie the oldest
John the youngest, the baby of the family
He can’t talk but he loves to walk
We have the best Mum in the world
She is never glum
I know John has a disability
But he can do things to the best of his ability
John is my brother so you can see
He can be annoying
But that’s just how things are meant to be
This story is about my son’s disorder. How I came to find out he had this disability, what
has been done to help, and also how I have felt through this whole process.
Early 2004, I was approached by my son’s pre-school teacher as she was concerned
Lachlan was not doing so well in the academic and social side of things. She thought it
was a good idea, that we have him assessed.
At this time, I was like “Oh god, what’s wrong with my son?” It was a huge blow to a
mother’s heart, to hear things were not so good.
The assessment went ahead, although could not be fully done, as Lachlan did not want
to co-operate. I’m not sure if Lachlan found it too hard to comprehend, but they couldn’t
finish the whole test. They thought the best for Lachlan would be to attend an S.E.D.U,
which is a Special Education Department Unit. This would help with his learning and
comprehension of learning and daily happenings that would occur at school and in his
life. He would attend the S.E.D.U for the 1st 2 days of the week, and also still attend
pre-school the last 2 days of the week.
Children also attending the S.E.D.U would be children with Down’s syndrome, Autism
So…. Lachlan attended the SEDU in 2004 and 2005. He repeated a 2nd year at preschool.
Also in this time, we were seeing many different specialist’s through the public health
system. Speech assessments, hearing tests, blood tests etc. I knew Lachlan was NOT a
quick learner, and maybe he was a little behind but I never thought he would have a
disorder or disability.
Near the end of 2005, it was decided that Lachlan would need extra help at school, but
diagnosing him would be hard. He did not have a certain number of characteristics, of
just 1 thing. A decision by the public health system would be to let him go to main
stream schooling and see where it went from there.
Mid-year 2006, Year 1, I would have to get a letter from his teacher, and certain
questionnaires filled out about how Lachlan was doing. Well his learning was no going
so well, and the Guidance Officer was involved. This was such a long process, my
husband and I had been dealing with this since early 2004! And finally we were hoping
to get some answers.
Thanks to a FANTASTIC teacher and a WONDERFUL guidance officer, we finally came to
a diagnosis which was Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
PDD is a term referring to a couple of disorders characterized by: impairments in social
interaction, impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication, and a restrictive,
stereotypic pattern of behaviours. There is a large amount of differences in symptoms
among people with PDD and again a large amount of differences in how severe these
symptoms are. There are a few disorders that fall into this category these are Autism,
Asperger's Syndrome, Rett's Syndrome, etc. Symptoms of PDD can include
communication problems such as:
• Trouble using and understanding language
• Having trouble with relating to people, objects, and events
• Playing unusually with toys and other objects
• Finding changes in routine or familiar surroundings hard
• Repeating body movements and/or behaving the same over and over again
Kids with PDD have a diverse range of abilities, intelligence and behaviours. Some kids
do not speak, some will speak a small amount, and some kids have fairly normal
language development. Kids with this usually have repetitive play and social skills which
are obvious. This can be diagnosed the best way with a multi disciplinary assessment.
This involves your child having tests with a number of professionals, who will then give
you the information you need to decide about programs and treatments that are best for
you to use for you own child..
Treating PDD Early intervention is important in treating a PDD. Even though there is
not a cure, there is definitely hope for Kids with these disorders. Identifying and starting
work with these kids early is the key to helping with this. The main thing aimed for is to
maximize communication with kids with an autistic spectrum disorder. Therapy for
children with PDD should be done individually as each child's disorder is different and
has different needs. Some kids with these disorders do well in small classes with lots of
one-on-one attention. Others do well in standard classrooms with some kind of support.
The thing that is aimed for with treatment is to get kids with PDDs to a point where they
can be placed back in a mainstream classroom into a regular classroom. They may also
require special programs and support services, including speech and language therapy.
Helping Your Child Once you learn your child has a PDD, it's important to get help.
Because the needs of children with these disorders are different, you may want to set up
an individualized education plan (IEP) for your child. You'll want to incorporate social
skills and communication into the program, and most experts agree it should be highly
structured. Maximized speech and language intervention is important, as is the use of
behaviour modification and rewards to try to stop problem behaviours and to encourage
all types of communication. Encourage your child with hugs and praise, as well as
rewards that stimulate social interaction (like a trip to the park). If your child is in
school, talk with your child's teacher and try using some of the same rewards and
behavior modification techniques at home. That way, your child will get a consistent
message at home and at school.
Some information I have used was provided by:
www.kidshealth.org go into the parents section and type PDD in the search area
Since Lachlan has been diagnosed with this disorder, PDD.
Things are looking up and he is getting the extra help he needs. He is doing really well
with his reading, although he’s not at the normal standard he is improving in leaps and
bounds. He makes me very proud every time he accomplishes a very hard word. His
writing is beautiful, but to think back 2 years ago, he couldn’t even write!
He regularly attends The Attic, which is the Special Unit situated within his school. He
also gets extra help in class, One on One, which he really needs as he seems to cope
better this way. He also has Speech Therapy through the school as well.
The negative side to this is a lot of people don’t understand Lachlan until I explain his
disability. It makes it very hard, as you cannot see his disability. So people think
automatically that he is a NAUGHTY boy!
He does not have that many friends, which through my eyes is so very sad and
upsetting, but for Lachlan it’s just the norm and prefers to just play on his own.
It’s hard for him to comprehend some things. The Guidance Officer told me his brain is
like a filing cabinet, he looks for the answer in there, but has a lot of trouble finding what
file he put it into.
In the past 3 yrs, I felt a lot of emotions a mother could feel. Disappointment, failure as
a parent, sadness, stress and fear of what is yet to come. I am scared for my Lachlan,
and what he will have to endure in his life. By this I mean, people not understanding
him, him being seen as stupid or arrogant and most of all him not being accepted. In my
own words the best way I explain Lachlan is, he is JUST DIFFERENT!
It has been a long road….but I cannot change what has happened, but I CAN make it
better. I will do everything in my power, to see he gets the extra help he needs. I will
never let him feel stupid, isolated from others, misunderstood and most of all unloved.
I hope this has helped anyone out there, who may have a child with PDD OR knows a
child with PDD.
Thanks for reading my advice