Edison is a happy, friendly 13yr old who loves sport. She is an active member of our hockey club and also enjoys rugby league, soccer and cricket. She has a twin brother, Isaac, and the most gorgeous cat, Cherry-Evans. Edison also has a severe Language Disorder.
We knew from an early age (3yrs) she had difficulties with her speech as she was not progressing at the same rate as Isaac. We were referred to a speech pathologist who gave us a very early diagnosis of a speech and language impairment.
From there Edi commenced regular speech therapy lessons and started at an Early Childhood Development Unit for children with speech-language or hearing impaired disorders. Edi then transitioned to Prep at a mainstream primary school and continued there until the end of year 6.
This period was a roller-coaster of highs and lows.
We assumed that with a professional diagnosis and a Qld Education verification Edi would receive the support she needed. Instead we spent years battling the system and advocating on her behalf. She had multiple assessments, reviews, programs, case managers, advisory visiting teachers, teacher-aids and ad-hoc support. School work was a constant struggle, playground fights a weekly occurrence, and friendships near impossible to maintain. The lack of awareness about her disorder was frustrating and the inability of parents to understand our situation was disappointing. At times we felt complete despair.
In Year 5 and 6 it changed. We finally had a Principal, classroom teacher and case manager who ‘got it’. They knew how to manage Edi’s program, modify the curriculum, provide targeted support, implement strategies during non-structured play, and encourage her to participate in all activities. By no means was it smooth sailing, but it allowed Edi to be happy, confident and enjoy her sport.
So we started the transition to high-school. A small, caring, all-girls Catholic school just 2 minutes up the road. We knew Edi was nervous so worked with the school in preparation for her move. Then it all fell apart. Nerves turned into anxiety, then tears and anger, and complete school refusal. We all tried – the Head of learning enrichment, class teachers, teacher aides, the school captain and PC buddies, but nothing helped. School was unendurable, the fear never left – it was fast paced and overwhelming. The anxiety attacks were unbearable and distressing for us all. We attended bi-weekly psychologist sessions to re-engage Edi with school. The paediatrician then diagnosed her with ASD.
Our speech pathologist was a godsend. She again suggested The Glenleighden School (TGS) but this time with more of an urgency than option. Edi had regressed academically, was withdrawn and had lost all confidence. We needed to make a change…so began our 1.3hr round trip to TGS.
The moment we arrived at TGS we felt relief. We were finally surrounded by professionals and parents who understand the full impacts of Language Disorder.
There is no judgment, just acceptance and support.
Edi is once again keen to attend school. She is learning, feels a strong sense of community and has made productive friendships. Our goal is for Edi to graduate from TGS with the knowledge and life skills to become a confident, independent woman. Someone with a voice, a good understanding of how the world works around her, and for others to celebrate her individuality.
– Len and Michelle
To support Edison and students with speech, language and related disorders to find their voice please make a tax-deductible donation today.