Jack’s all ready for prep now thanks to Autism Qld's program
FOR Jack Simpson, sitting in a structured environment like a classroom would have been more of a battle for him than the other first-time prep students.
But thanks to the Autism Queensland (AQ) program here in town, Jack can head off to prep next year with the knowledge and ability to conform to the social constraints of schooling while learning and making plenty of friends.
Jack said he likes going to AQ with his friends.
"My teacher is called Emily," he said.
"I like going outside... and I like singing.
"My friends are Jen, and Brandon, and Noah."
For Jack to stand in front of a group of journalists and answer questions was a big step, and his mum Lee-Anne Simpson said without AQ, heading to prep would be so much more difficult.
"It's awesome, so really being able to prepare for things in a classroom setting - so sitting, taking turns, being able to communicate better with his peers but not taking away his uniqueness, what makes Jack Jack," she said of the program.
"Before we came here we were feeling a bit lost, really lost actually, but we've really got a direction now that we didn't have.
"For him it would have been so much harder.
"I think that his learning would have been really adversely affected because he really doesn't get a lot of those social cues - things that may come naturally to other kids like sitting quietly, being able to concentrate."
Ms Simpson said upon hearing Jack's diagnosis, there were plenty of tears.
"I don't think I've ever cried so much as when I first found out that Jack had a diagnosis of autism," she said.
"The crying has stopped because now through this program I understand more about Jack… I feel stronger as a parent."
With another child, a 15-year-old daughter, Ms Simpson said at first the family really struggled but under the guidance of the program, they were able to fully understand and appreciate the natural talents and gifts that Jack has.
She said she shed a few "secret tears" before Jack's last day at AQ, but they were definitely "happy tears".
Jack, meanwhile, was happy to play his last day away and said he loved going to AQ.
"I like playing with Brandon's brother," he said.
"I like wet days and playing in the pool, I can float."
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autistic - diagnosed early between birth and three years of age. It is identified when children may experience developmental delays
Asperger's - diagnosed where children or teenagers experience difficulties in social interaction
Retts - diagnosed between five and 30 months where they may experience difficulty with developmental milestones and social interactions. Retts disorder is almost exclusively found in girls
Childhood Disintegrative - rare condition characterised by late onset of development that occurs around two to three years of age