Eamonn attended the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast and has been diagnosed with autism, severe speech and language delay and a learning disability. We talk to Eamonn and mum Una on how Mencap Northern Ireland has helped them a family.
Eamonn lives in Belfast with his Mum Una, Dad Eamonn and two year old sister, Aoibhinn. He is an extremely happy, affectionate, energetic and inquisitive three-year-old boy who loves playing with all sorts of vehicles, especially cars - he would carry them around with him all day if it was possible.
Eamonn really enjoys physical activities both inside and outside the home, as well parks and soft play areas, but this can also cause him considerable stress and anxiety and is not always the pleasant experience that should be expected for a little boy.
Family life as you can imagine is very busy and somewhat hectic at times, but it is also amazing to watch these two little people grow, learn as their unique and sparkling personalities develop.
"Eamonn enjoys his own company and can play happily for short periods of time."
"He will try to interact with other children, though this can be quite difficult for him due to his lack of social interaction skills, spoken communication and rigid thinking, all of which are symptoms of his Autism."
"He has very little sense of danger and can display challenging behaviours which make everyday activities, that others take for granted a massive struggle for him."
We first heard of the Mencap Children’s Centre through a speech and language therapist who made a referral for Eamonn, we were lucky to get a place and Eamonn started in September 2016. Since coming to Mencap Children’s Centre and using their early years services many obstacles and challenges have been much easier to manage and overcome.
We were really concerned about Eamonn’s development and found the waiting lists for child development assessments, appointments and referrals exhausting. We realised at this stage that Eamonn would struggle immensely in a mainstream playgroup setting and were resigned to the fact that Eamonn would not be able to attend a playgroup like other children of his age. It was a worrying and upsetting time for us as a family as we knew early intervention was vital at this point.
"When Eamonn received a place at Mencap Children’s Centre we were overjoyed!"
"We couldn’t believe how lucky we were for our wee Eamonn to be able to avail of a facility that could not just meet one of his special needs but all of them"
Eamonn was now going to be able to attend a place that had on site occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and his own key worker, all within one unit. The therapists and key workers would all be working together to ensure that Eamonn would receive the help, support and therapies he specifically needed, using a holistic approach. Everybody would have an input and communication between us all was the key!
Early Years staff and Belfast Health Trust Therapists, based in the Mencap Centre have worked rigorously to ensure continuity and progression. The planning, organisation and structure that goes into implementing the strategies that Eamonn needs to develop to his full potential is impeccable.
"As the weeks and months have went by the positive feedback we are receiving is overwhelming and extremely reassuring!"
"Eamonn is meeting targets and developing so many life skills."
"Every member of staff at Mencap is so helpful, understanding and approachable and it is evident how much they love their work by the way each of them interacts with every individual child."
We are very privileged to be part of the Mencap Children’s Centre and could not have wished for a better early intervention setting for our wee Eamonn. The unique support and help makes the Mencap Centre a very special place, that has given the best for our child.
Thank You Mencap!