AEIOU centre opens in ACT, saving families from moving to access support
The opening of an autism specific early intervention learning service in the ACT suburb of Garran has saved parents Tariq Yossouf and Khaleda Edib from needing to split their family for a year or more in order to allow three-and-a-half-year-old twin boys Ujan and Umar to access specialised support.
The twins live with autism and a number of other special needs, and had previously been “rejected from almost every childcare and support service” because their unique needs required specialist staffing support not readily available in the Territory.
For example, they have been on a waiting list for speech therapy for two and a half years – more than half their lives. While the NDIS provides funding for both boys, it does not provide a pathway to spend it.
“Sometimes you cannot buy things with money,” Mr Yossouf explained to reporter Holly Tregenza.
“The NDIS is providing what we need, but we have nowhere to spend it. I simply can’t buy the services – you feel helpless.”
Because of these challenges, Ms Edib was planning to move to Sydney with the boys, whilst Mr Yossouf remained in the ACT with older daughter Chati. Thankfully, due to the opening of the AEIOU service, the boys are now able to remain in the Territory and receive access to individualised learning plans and support systems in the critical early years.
Four services refused to take on enrolment of the twins because of their needs, Ms Edib explained, expressing her sense of relief when the AEIOU service opened. The AEIOU service is the first of its kind in the ACT and operates in partnership with John James foundation, which funded the construction of the building.
The service has a special role, AEIOU Regional Manager Enia Alberto explained to the ABC.
“A lot of children and families have been rejected or told to leave childcare facilities, and that can be quite traumatic.”
“I’ve heard from parents who say they finally found a place where they belong.”
In 2021, the service has 20 children enrolled, a number the team hopes to double in future, provided specialist staff can be sourced to help deliver the programs needed.
To learn more about AEIOU, please see here. To read the ABC coverage of this story, see here.