I used to do yoga at lunch in this church across the street from my office and I was leaving the class when the daycare called to tell me that they had been noticing my daughter, who was just over a year old, was not hitting milestones.
I was very proactive with therapies and took her to speech and physical therapies by 16 months. She was doing ok and then COVID came. My daughter was the first kid they ever diagnosed with autism over zoom.
Even though I knew, the diagnosis was upsetting. We were in those five months where daycares were closed but I knew when she went back to daycare that I would have to tell the director and within a few days of being back at daycare they let me know that they couldn’t support her. We heard about Kayla's Children’s Centre, went to meet with them and it was heaven sent. What's amazing about KCC is that everything's in one place. Kids with special needs have so many therapies but at KCC they're all integrated into the program.
They also do an amazing job at supporting the whole family. They have a social worker on staff who helps the parents understand all the funding you can apply for. It is very expensive having a kid with special needs.
As a parent, I think the things that are hard are times like Halloween or things that you thought before you became a parent were going to be really fun and exciting. She doesn't care about her birthday, she doesn't care about Halloween, she doesn't notice. There are those moments of mourning where you're like, this is not what I had expected.
I think for parents who are about to start down the path we are on, it’s just important to not be in denial and to do all the early intervention stuff. It’s not going to give your kid autism if you take them to speech therapy, and I think people stick their head in the sand and just don't want to face it. Early intervention is really all you have. I've learned to not be afraid to ask for special exceptions. You have to advocate for them. You can't be embarrassed to ask for everything you need.
Kayla’s Children Centre is a Jewish day school, therapy clinic, and recreational centre for children with disabilities, behavioural challenges, and complex medical needs. With a whole-family approach to care, Kayla’s provides hundreds of children with educational, therapeutic, and extracurricular activities year-round, and offers support and respite for their families.