“Maxwell was born on the 6th of July 2013 a healthy beautiful little baby. As he grew he was developing in line with the expected developmental guidelines, hitting all the appropriate milestones until he turned 18months when quite literally overnight he lost all speech he had learnt. He retreated into his own little world which myself and my husband struggled to be a part of on a daily basis. Having a child who had no interest in interacting with you or even acknowledging your existence was heart breaking and we were at a loss as to what to do. After approaching numerous professionals (health visitors, nursery staff etc) as we were fully aware there was a problem- we kept getting dismissed- being told our son was merely ‘a boy and boys are lazy’ and he would catch up in his own time. Only upon my insistence were we referred to a paediatrician who then confirmed our fears that she believed Maxwell to be autistic. We were told ‘so many people would descend on us to help’ whilst we waited for an official ADOS assessment. I wasn’t prepared to wait (and rightly so as I didn’t hear a peep from any NHS professionals) and instead I did my own research and stumbled across the Ark Centre that had only been open a couple of months at the time.
We were prepared to give anything a try and signed Max up to the Ark with a completely open mind and just hoped in some way they would be able to help.
Maxwell entered the Ark on the severe end of the spectrum, completely non verbal, with balance problems, severe sensory issues that also caused him to regularly projectile vomit, tunnel vision where his brain could only process what was in front of him and didn’t allow him to acknowledge anything in the peripheral so he would appear deaf and zero eye contact or interaction with other people. The ladies at the Ark are what I can only describe as miracle workers! Through their knowledge, professionalism, care and perseverance over the course of the 2 years Max was at the centre they helped to unlock his little brain, he began to speak- something we feared would never happen. He began to understand the importance of communication and actively started to seek out other people. They worked in depth on his sensory issues that allowed him to live comfortably, instead of spending 90% of his day repetitively spinning or repetitively climbing onto then crashing on our sofa. This in turn helped his sickness and all round gave him a better quality of life.
Without the Ark Centre I one hundred percent believe I would have a child who still couldn’t speak and who I would still be struggling to engage with. Instead I have a happy, lively, chatty, hilarious and popular little boy who is attending mainstream school, going to karate club, is invited to all the parties and absolutely loves being around all his friends!
When we started this long and never ending journey I had three wishes for Maxwell- 1) for him to say ‘I love you mummy’ 2) for him to have friends 3) for him to attend (if it suited him) a mainstream school. The Ark helped me to fulfil all of these wishes for him!
I would recommend them to anyone and believe their amazing work needs to be more widely recognised so they can help even more children like Max to have the best chance in life as early intervention is so key!!!”
– Danielle Kenton