TRURO, N.S. – Raising a child with autism has given Mallory Fowler an understanding of the condition and a desire to make a difference.
Mallory, whose son Hunter has been diagnosed with non-verbal autism, has stepped up to coordinate this year’s Truro Walk for Autism.
“I really want to be involved and give back,” she said. “We really need more services in the area. There are so many people who are affected by autism. I feel there’s a need for more respite services, and more programs and services that includes our children and adults.”
Hunter was two when Mallory noticed some things that were out of the ordinary.
“He would flap his hands when excited, almost like a bird, and when he was two and a half there was still no language.”
Mallory got her son on a wait list when he was two, but because the list was so long, he was three weeks away from his fourth birthday before he was diagnosed. Once diagnosed, there was another eight-month wait before they could receive services.
“I understand there’s a long wait list, but the earlier you can intervene with therapies and tactics, the more helpful it is,” she said.
“It was a rocky road for a few years, but he’s almost seven and he’s doing good now. We were able to have EIBI (early intensive behavioural intervention) come to our home and spend time working with him. I kept him home an extra year to receive full EIBI services, and he’s in Primary now.”
Hunter uses an iPad, with a special app, to communicate.
“That has been wonderful for him,” said Mallory. “He knows what he wants, he just needed a way to communicate that to others. The app is $400 itself, so I would love to see an iPad lending library.”
Hunter uses the iPad to communicate with his three-year-old brother, Mason, and his eight-year-old sister, Alexis.
“He and Alexis have always just had a special connection,” said Mallory. “It’s amazing to watch her. She knows what he needs and what he’s thinking. They have a way with each other.”
Hunter does have sensory issues, and certain noises, as well as crowds, upset him.
“If we’re in town and the wrong thing happens it’s meltdown central, and then I get those looks from other people,” said Mallory. “It’s hard as a parent when you’re trying your best and get looked at like you’re not doing a good job. I wish there was better understanding, awareness and acceptance.”
She is part of a support group that enables parents with children on the autism scale to get together to share stories about their difficulties and joys, and discuss what’s needed in the community.
Walk the Walk for Autism
Place: Victoria Park
Date: Saturday, June 16
Time: 10 a.m. - Registration/pre-walk activities
10:45am - 11 a.m. - Photo ops and prizes for teams/individuals
11 a.m. – Noon - Walk
Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Barbecue and cake