Getting ready for school means working as a team

By Natalia Carozzi, 1 April 2020 , Comments

Early Childhood Early Intervention services are playing a major role preparing Connor for school.

“Connor loves dancing, singing and painting. He has a special love for Mickey Mouse and when he is on TV, Connor talks to him as if he’s part of the TV show. Two years ago, our son would be looking out the window, avoiding interacting with people, and now he is continually looking for us and his educators to dance.”

Andrea and Marty Richardson are talking about their son Connor, who was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years old. At the time Connor found it difficult to socialise and he was non-verbal.

Dad Marty shares, “When Connor was diagnosed, we didn’t know what to do. We never thought we would need to use this kind of service. We were told to ring Northcott. So I rang, without being sure what to ask for.”

After calling, the Richardsons were assigned to NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Coordinator Juli.  They met to talk through Connor’s needs and goals, and created a plan for achieving them.

Andrea says: “I went to the first meeting on my own. I wasn’t expecting much; we were scared because of the bad things we were reading online about the NDIS. That first meeting was confronting. I had to hear myself say things about Connor’s struggles out loud for the first time. Juli made me feel I was in a safe space to talk about it and acknowledged how difficult it was.

“She was reassuring in saying ‘you are doing the right thing, it’s okay, we are going to get through this’. I wasn’t expecting that support. I thought it was going to be a procedural meeting and I got empathy and care from Juli. She guided us through the process and was a real supporter.”

The first year was all about getting peadiatric disability supports for Connor so he could learn how to play and socialise with other kids. During that period, Connor and his parents, alongside his Therapy team, worked really hard. Connor made amazing progress in many developmental areas such as communication, social skills and self-care. Juli kept in contact, celebrating the ups with the family and providing support when things weren’t going so well.

After the initial 12 months, Marty and Andrea attended the plan review meeting with Juli, and they found this was a good opportunity to thank her. “Although she is not involved in Connor’s everyday life and the support he receives, she periodically checks in and shows support and concern for Connor’s wellbeing,” says Andrea.

“After we met for the plan review, and once the plan was approved, we had another meeting with Juli to go through the plan. She was guiding us on what we needed to look for, how we could best maximise the use of our budget, and avoiding common pitfalls.”

Marty adds: “We like to be informed, keeping up with news and research to get the best possible resources to support Connor. Having someone highly invested in our journey, like Juli, gives as a reassuring feeling. This is not a transactional relationship; we have built a trusting relationship.

“Not long ago, I was unsure about how to add a new service provider to our plan. I didn’t know who to ask about it, so we called Juli and she helped us through the process. She has the resources and information, and that makes it easier for us to get through what we need.”

This is a big year for Connor as he is preparing to start school in 2021. Connor attends daycare five days a week and sees Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists weekly. Plus he’s also getting Early Intervention support. All his goals are related to starting school, focussing on speaking, toilet training and swimming safety.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Connor achieved the biggest milestone in his young life so far when he was able to have a simple conversation with his dad for the first time. Marty says: “That brings excitement and also encourages us to look into the future. We’re looking forward to more celebrations and breakthroughs!”

Related ‘Early Childhood Early Intervention’ content

Find more about how Early Intervention provides a head start for Billie.

We are providing ECEI services as usual during the pandemic. Scheduled plan reviews and first plan meetings can also be completed via videoconference or telephone. Face-to-face meetings are still available. Your ECEI Coordinator will contact you in advance to ask a few simple health questions before we visit you or you visit us. Find more information about ECEI services during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

If you see your child is behaving in a way others find concerning, finding it difficult to make friends or not growing out of certain behaviour, get in touch with Northcott ECEI team to have a conversation about their development.

Northcott Services mentioned in this article

NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI)

Occupational Therapy

Speech Therapy


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