August 2014

“Harry was diagnosed with childhood Autism at the age of 22 months. He was our first child and quite exceptional at some things – puzzles, building blocks, and discrete problem solving. Everyone would comment on what a well-behaved child he was, how undemanding and easy going. Despite this, he never turned when you called his name, didn’t respond to simple requests and functioned in his own self-contained little world.


We were shocked and devastated when we received Harry’s diagnosis of ASD. We had got him assessed with the hope of being told we were over anxious parents and he would ‘grow out of it’. Fortunately, a very close friend of mine also had a child with ASD. Her son Matthew had been diagnosed aged 3 and at 31/2 he started an ABA programme. It was December 2004 and ABA programmes were relatively new in the UK. They had a visiting consultant from the USA and employed their own tutors who they trained up in the various behavioural techniques and programmes. Matthew was 10 in 2004 and my friend came to see us to persuade us to consider doing a similar programme. They were delighted with how well he was doing and having had 20 words when he started the programme Matthew was now in mainstream school with full language. Our minds as to what we were going to do were made up.

Harry started his ABA programme with UK YAP in April 2005. We enrolled in their intensive programme working with a team of tutors and consultants 40 hours a week. It was completely exhausting, but good fun and incredibly exciting watching Harry develop his language and vocabulary and learn many new skills. Although tiring, he seemed to enjoy the programme and we had one tutor in particular who was completely inspirational and so dedicated to helping Harry on his journey.

At age 41/2, Harry was accepted into a local mainstream school with his ABA tutor. The programme was new to them, but they agreed to give it a go. Harry was part-time for the reception year, but by year 1 he had enough language and skills to access the whole curriculum with support from his tutor. He was talking, reading well and had made lots of friends and was joining in all the activities that the other children were doing. We worked hard after school, helping him develop those things he found more challenging, including really trying to focus on team sports such as football. His progress continued and by year 4 we were beginning to fade the ABA tutor out, so much so that by year 5 he had minimal support. Harry has just finished year 6 and he is 11 years old. Although he still has his Statement of Educational needs, he is independent in all activities at school and able to stay on task and focus in all areas of the curriculum. He was awarded an academic scholarship at a leading independent boys school earlier this year and will start there in September 2014 without any extra support. He plays football and cricket to a good level and holds grade 4 violin and grade 3 piano. He is indistinguishable amongst his peers and whilst we still know the autism is there, he leads a rich and fulfilling life. We hope he will carry on to be a successful and independent adult. He is a lovely, kind, gentle child with a wonderful sense of humour and many talents. My friends’ son, Matthew, has just finished his first year at a leading Russell Group university studying History and Classics. He is living independently in a shared house with other students and currently travelling in South America during his summer break. It is difficult to say where both Harry and Matthew would be at this time without their ABA programmes but we do feel that they have contributed hugely to the boys amazing achievements to date.”

Liz, Harry’s mother