Udi’s ABA Story with Learning For Life

Thursday, August 29 2019

“The early intervention through Learning for Life not only helped Udayan (Udi) in reaching his potential but also helped us become confident parents, socially and emotionally”.

Mary Muirhead (L4Life’s Director) went to chat to Natasha, Udi’s mum, over lunch recently. It was great hearing about Udi’s progress. He now has a new brother, Yashi, who is 18 months old. His language came along so much after Yashi was born and Udi was so excited to have a sibling. Udi now does a lot of after school activities including swimming at the Rainbow club, drawing several times a week, gymnastics and drums. He loves singing with a microphone which gives him great confidence and loves reading at school. He has speech therapy and OT still to help further his play, language and social skills. Natasha says she now loves the autism community they find themselves in.

Udi with his dad and brother Udi in therapy
Udi with his dad Kumar and younger brother, Yashi Udi during an ABA Therapy session

Natasha and her husband Kumar are very much part of the L4life Village. Natasha held an AbiliTEA in 2017 for World Autism Awareness Day at her work, Telstra, sharing her story and fundraising for L4Life. They both spoke at one of our Kwiz nights too.

L4Life has financially supported Udi through his 3 years of therapy through our “Fair Access” and our donors’ generosity. Natasha, her Mum and Kumar joined in a Mindfulness program organised through L4life and Monash Uni to help with their anxieties and own social isolation. Tickets generously shared with L4Life have also given Udi and family a chance to experience some musical and sporting events such as a MSO relaxed performance, Peter and The Wolf, AFL and cricket games. Udi still accesses L4Life School Consultancy program as needed.

Udi's Mum Natasha at her AbiliTEA 2017

Natasha shared her families’ story at work, promoting autism awareness and acceptance and fundraising for L4Life. Natasha and Kumar came from India when Udi was 18 months to give him the best opportunities.

It was the Australian maternal and child health nurse who pointed out the red flags for autism – lack of pointing, eye contact, repetitive throwing of toys/food – that lead to a diagnosis from a paediatrician.

Read Udayan’s ABA Story with Learning For Life, as told by his mum Natasha.

Udayan was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. He had no speech, eye contact or play skills. The doctor told me that it will change your life and I did not understand what does that really mean. Udi is now 8 years old and attends a mainstream school. He loves singing, drawing and reading. Udi has come a long way. It is through the hard work of the L4Life therapists, supervisors and Emma (Clinical Director) who have dedicated their time, energy and knowledge to teach the skills that otherwise come very natural to a neurotypical child. This would have not been possible without L4Life and the ABA Therapy. We chose the full service model as we had just arrived from India, this meant L4Life organised, trained and sent therapists to us.

Udi with his family Udi

We started home based ABA Therapy with L4Life for Udi in September 2013 and did almost 35 -40 hours per week with a team of 3-4 therapists and a supervisor. To be able to manage the finances, both me and my partner had to work, so we decided to move very close to work in the city. Once a fortnight, we would have a team meeting to review Udi’s progress, add new goals, review reinforcements and rearrange the programs to still make them interesting for him.

The therapy was always focused on teaching skills like self care, play, social imitation and verbal imitation that were important for Udayan and his readiness to learn it. The therapy was very intense and had several programs which mapped to the goals set for Udayan. The goals helped my son extend his boundaries to a comfortable level.

As a family we included ABA Therapy in our daily routine and were always seeking opportunities to teach Udi. Our hopes and dreams for him when he started were for him to learn to play and talk. Now our hopes are for him to become independent, to improve his social skills, and find places and be with people where he can just be himself.

Udi became verbal through his therapy. Now he can talk about what he wants. He can express his needs and his feelings and understands emotions. The best thing was when he was able to recognise us as his family. He can play independently now. He can be engaged and happy on his own. Before he wouldn’t tolerate that—he might go and scratch somebody. He can now better manage his emotions and his anxiety. And with L4Life we were able to transition him into childcare, then Kinder, into Prep to grade 2, now mainstream school with an aid. He is calmer and understands routine and the expectations of being in a social environment.