Several devoted parents have set up a trust which aims to help families and children with autism in North Otago.
The Waitaki Autism Trust was created by Yanina Vidal and Pablo Tacchini, Steph and Travis Peters, and Yvonne Ball as a way to provide funding and support for families of those with autism.
Before the trust was created in December last year, the closest support network was in Dunedin which made it hard and expensive for families needing to travel there.
Mrs Vidal, whose son Ian, 7, has autism, said the trust was still in the early stages but they were hoping to get more members and funding so they could train therapists and raise awareness.
One of the main goals of the trust is to get children with autism to go through Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy which involves intensive one-one therapy to teach children life and social skills.
ABA therapy is expensive in New Zealand because, unlike most other countries, there is no funding for it, Mrs Vidal said.
“I will never forget the day we went to the doctor and they told me there is nothing we can do.”
However, with the help of ABA therapy, Ian is now in mainstream schooling and living life to the full – there were always challenges but patience was the main thing, Mrs Vidal said.
“Having Ian made me a better person.”
The trust was set up with the help of Rihi Salter and David Salter from Berry & Co Barristers and Solicitors, who did an amazing job of organising everything for free, she said.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Steph Peters met Mrs Vidal, several years ago, after finding out her son Toby, 4, had autism and searched online for information in Oamaru.
They both belonged to a trust in Dunedin but found it was quite limiting and expensive to be so far away, she said.
Having a local trust would help parents to get through what she had and was going through, Mrs Peters said.
“There is hope.”
Toby’s behaviour also changed after he started going to ABA therapy.
“The improvement is just unreal,” Mrs Peters said.
The trust will be holding fundraising and awareness events, talks, providing resources and helping to fund and support families.
Visit www.facebook.com/waitakiautism for more information on the trust and future events.
The trust is also looking for sponsors and anyone interested can send a message through the Facebook page, email email@example.com or phone Yanina Vidal on 021 247 7217.
A garage sale will be held at 71A Greta St on Saturday, February 15 at 9am.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the Trust could do so via the Trust’s bank account:
Waitaki Autism Trust, Kiwibank
By RUBY HARFIELD
HELPING IAN: Ian Tacchini, 7, who has autism, enjoys a day at the beach with his parents Yanina Vidal and Pablo Tacchini who helped set up the newly established Waitaki Autism Trust.
PHOTO: JANELLE MILMINE