Like so many other families, the Green's enjoy the beach and outdoors, the company of their beloved guinea pigs ‘Bob’ and ‘Buster’ and ‘Hunter’ the cat, alongside family holidays. The family lives in the picturesque seaside town of Southbourne on the south coast of Dorset. Addison is eight and his sister Charlie, is ten. Mum is a nurse. Dad works in Compliance for an Insurance company.
Like just 1 in 100 families, the Green’s daughter is on the Autism Spectrum with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. As part of her condition, Charlie is battling with issues ranging from sleep problems, inflexible behaviour, regular meltdowns, echolalia (repetition of vocalisations associated with autism), sensory issues, high anxiety and a brief spell of self harming.
Mum Tiffany explains further; “I had always felt there was something different about Charlie from a very early age. She would come out with grown up statements and didn’t respond or interact socially as expected, particularly with other children.
My husband put it down to shyness for a long time but she was confident doing things without interaction, like dancing or being on stage. Whilst at school, Charlie was referred to the Occupational Therapist due to issues with her writing. This appointment lead to us booking a meeting with the School SENCO. Eighteen months later we had a diagnosis of Autism. It was a relief to know what we were dealing with and be able to put a name to it.”
Getting a diagnosis was profound for the family, who felt their daughter was struggling and not getting the support she needed to understand the world around her.
“We had heard of Autism prior to diagnosis but didn’t truly appreciate or understand the full impact it can have on daily lives. Things with Charlie unfortunately got worse before they got better.”
The Green family resolved to do anything in their power to help their daughter.
Tiffany continues; “Home life was getting desperate with meltdowns from Charlie lasting an hour or so, and with increasingly aggressive behaviour. Charlie was extremely unhappy and we were very concerned. She had fallen behind at her mainstream school and presented increased sensory needs, leaving her unable to concentrate and learn.”
STARTING AT PORTFIELD SCHOOL
The Local Authority finally agreed to move Charlie to a specialist Autism Specific Placement and Charlie was offered a place at ‘The Hub’ at Portfield School. ‘The Hub’ is a specialist service for high functioning students at Portfield school.
Tiffany concludes; “Within the first two weeks of Charlie starting at Portfield School we noticed an amazing change in her. She was much calmer and having far fewer meltdowns. We could see glimpses of our vibrant, cheerful, funny daughter again, which was so lovely after such a long time. Charlie even said, ‘I can be myself there.’ Things continue to go well at Portfield and we are happy that she is finally in the right nurturing environment for her needs. She continues to be anxious, and she will always have autism, but we feel with the help of Autism Wessex, she has the opportunity to meet her potential in life and be happy.”