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Reach Family Success Stories

Ryder’s Story 2019

Christine and Derek Sutherland share their son’s journey on the autism spectrum. Ryder was a typical baby, reaching his developmental milestones but the parents had noticed he was needy and subject to prolonged tantrums. A playgroup teacher recommended his parents contact Reach Child and Youth Development Society (REACH) suspecting he may have autism. In fact, Ryder started attending REACH Infant Development Program before his diagnosis.   

The family learned about symptoms that they did not know were associated with ASD. Eating was a big challenge and REACH helped Ryder be comfortable with food on his plate. Dad Derek mentions how creative play was important and mom Christine discusses how steps in toileting were important and dressing challenges like zippers were overcome.

Goals were set by specialists and the family would meet with them monthly to assess progress. At time of filming, Ryder had learnt to ride a bike and his dad is proud of how independent he is becoming. Mom Christine says REACH is part of their family. The therapists provided a clear path for the family to follow and were assured that Ryder was going to be okay. The parents vision for the future is hopeful now that the fear has been taken away.

Tahan’s Story 2018

Tahan is a  six year old youngster who benefitted from REACH services for autism. Mom Sonali discusses how she and dad Lyle  had noticed Tahan’s lack of language at  his first immunization. This prompted them to have him assessed for the deficit although he was meeting all his other physical development milestones.

Tahan’s assessment led him to be referred to REACH and his parents were reassured by the initial comprehensive plan to help Tahan and by how he enjoyed them and progressed quickly. Footage of Applied Behaviour Analysis is included in the video to give the viewer a sense of how the therapy works.

Although on a previous holiday, Tahan had not said a word, on a trip after receiving intervention, he said his first sentence. Mom Sonali notes that early intervention was key in Tahan’s success and adjustment. Mom and Dad have no doubts that Tahan will reach his potential and have a fulfilling life. 

McCafferty Family Story 2017

Sean McCafferty is a young man who shares details of his full life achieved through the effectiveness of early intervention services from REACH for his autism diagnosis. From recreational pursuits of snowboarding and attending movies with friends to his work as an apprentice auto mechanic, Sean recounts how his life is enjoyable and fulfilling.

Mom Marcia describes what led to Sean’s initial diagnosis. She noticed a dramatic difference at a mom and tot group when Sean was two. While the other toddlers interacted with the toys and each other, Sean did not participate. It was a wake up call, she shared how she didn’t know if Sean would ever talk at that point. Unsure of what to do, a neighbour mentioned services available at REACH.

Marcia made contact with REACH and in the first session, she saw a difference in how the therapist was able to interact with her son. He was learning right away and she saw the adaptations that could be made to cultivate Sean’s skills. Today, Marcia knows that Sean will do well in his future. She looks at Sean and sees how successful he is and she thanks REACH for the large part their services played in this success. Marcia felt very strongly about giving back and volunteers with REACH on the society board of directors and also established and runs FINDS Children’s Exchange, the non-profit’s social enterprise.

Benning Family Story 2016

Mom Somi Benning outlines how her son Bryce suffered complications at birth and began having seizures. Not knowing what was going on, Somi and her husband Chris experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. When the doctors arrived to explain, the new parents were told that Bryce had severe brain hemorrhaging and that he may not be able to walk, talk or see. Chris then talks about the delight of having their first children, twin brothers Bryce and Brandon and the worry about Bryce’s future resulting from the neurologist’s diagnosis of Bryce’s condition. Somi relates how no one really prepares you when things don’t go well with a new birth and you have a child with a disability.

Bryce had to wear a helmet in the early years of life because of neck and head abnormalities and he was behind developmentally. At the time of filming Bryce was 3 years old and Somi recalled when REACH therapists first came to visit Bryce. Help had arrived and the reassuring difference it made to the Bennings was immeasurable. Infant Development Program Manager Leora Shipley and Physiotherapist Julie Moore offered activities and guidance that helped Bryce meet and exceed his milestones.   Parents Somi and Chris realized that Bryce was going to be okay as he caught up to his brother Brandon with his skills and abilities.


The Baker Family 2015

The Baker family share their journey with son Ethan, who has autism. Their story starts out with hearing from Ethan’s dad, Cory, who says he and his wife Michelle always knew something was wrong but didn’t know what it was. The Bakers had no idea what to do. Due to a lack of resources and understanding of about his condition, they felt like there were no answers and were devastated.

Ethan’s biggest developmental delay was with his social skills. He had friends at school but didn’t know how to interact with them appropriately; for instance, he had trouble maintaining eye contact. The family took separate vacations because of the challenges they faced with Ethan and they just wanted their son to be normal like the other kids.

After seeking help from REACH,  the Bakers came to terms about his condition. REACH set up a meeting with the family and their team of professionals to assess Ethan’s needs. After taking some time to get to know him, a custom individualized home and school program was created for Ethan. REACH worked closely with the family and the school to keep everyone on the same page.

During a recent Disneyland vacation, Ethan was well behaved and calm in the lineups. Michelle got a tear in her eye because she could see that her son has changed. Over the last two years Ethan’s parents have seen his abilities improve and are hopeful about his future.

Cooksley Family Story

Mom Hazel discusses how she noticed something different about her son Carson in the way he moved his body as a baby. Dad shares their confusion after receiving a diagnosis of autism and how it was hard to know what to do. When their second son Carter came along, he was diagnosed at an earlier age with autism. Symptoms for both sons manifested in severe food intolerance. The parents were at wit’s end because their sons weren’t eating and doctors were bringing up the possibility of a feeding tube.

Hazel asked a friend for help and was referred to REACH. She felt as though she had finally found someone who was speaking her language. REACH offered inclusive advice and support so that they as parents could learn to support Carson and Carter as well as the professionals. Hazel explains that REACH helped with the eating difficulties, regulation and autism specific behaviours all under one collaborative roof.

Through therapy, Carson and Carter were able to be kids and participate in the fun and discovery other children were. Both parents see a lot of possibilities in their sons’ future. Hazel shares that REACH has taught them all how to overcome obstacles.

Myles of Courage: A Story of Autism

Myles was a bubbly baby and then suddenly at age two, it was like a curtain dropped and his behaviour changed completely. His mom, Anita, immediately sought answers as to why he was now sitting in the corner all by himself and was not responsive to sounds.  Sunnyhill Hospital diagnosed Myles with high functioning autism.

Myles recounts feeling a sense of relief upon receiving an autism diagnosis because he now understood why he would engage in certain behaviours and he could explain to others. Because there was no government funding for help with autism back then, Myles’ parents Anita and Brad took on additional jobs to get him the help he needed. Mom gives a detailed description of the different resources she used to help Myles navigate life through the lens of autism.

REACH services helped Myles learn behaviours to navigate life. Executive Director Rene D’Aquila tells viewers how REACH has services to support children with autism and any type of developmental delay. She explains how treatment begins with individualized assessments tailored to the child and their family. Behavioural Consultant Elysa describes the help she gave Anita, Brad and Myles. Both Brad and Myles tell us how repetition was so integral to mastering the skills Myles needed in order to flourish. Now, Myles is a spokesperson in the community. He spreads awareness about autism and shares the message that there is hope.

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