Amani began her bursary year with The Giving Tree Foundation in September 2016. Before commencing the intensive ABA programme, Amani was delayed in many self-help skills, such as feeding and clothing herself. She was non-verbal, and found it difficult to communicate her needs with her family, which led to high levels of frustration. Within just a few weeks of receiving intensive ABA therapy, Amani began to make significant gains.


May 2017

AmaniAmanis mum 2 s“Our dream of giving Amani the best chance in life could not have been possible without the help of The Giving Tree Foundation, who have given her a bursary, and an opportunity to flourish, thrive and develop just like her peers. Not only has the bursary given us hope, it has given Amani the chance to prove to everyone that she can learn just like everyone else; she just needs a different approach. Amani is our youngest of four. After receiving her diagnosis, I learned that there was nothing available for my daughter’s needs through the NHS or the education system. Amani needed someone else to see the same vision for her, to give her the opportunity to overcome her difficulties so that she can learn and have a bright future. The bursary for the intensive ABA programme with UK YAP, has not only given Amani the Amani ABA3 sbest chance to achieve her full potential, it has given her the best teaching available for her. The UCLA model for ABA has over 30 years of research to back it up; it shows that early intervention is key for children with Autism. It also shows that an intensive programme of 35 hours that is tailored to the specific needs of the child is vital, and this is what Amani is receiving.

Amani started the intensive programme in September, and has in that time gained skills that are beyond the expectation we had of her. Since September, we see a different little girl who is engaging with others, and is no longer locked in her own world. Within a week of the programme, Amani was sitting at the table and beginning to want to learn and to play with toys. Before ABA, Amani would not sit still for longer than a minute; she would run around in self-stimulating behaviour and not engage with anything or anyone. Amani is still non-verbal, but whereas she was completely unable to communicate, ABA gave her a voice through the PECS system. Within days of starting therapy, Amani began pointing to objects she wanted and started making more of an effort to find ways to communicate with us. She is now working on strengthening her mouth muscles, so as to start learning language. ABA has given

Amani the opportunity to make choices that she was not able to make before. It is truly incredible to see the joy in her eyes when she gets what she wants. This helps Amani show what she is thinking to others, and it reassures us, her family, as we are now able to understand her wants and needs better. These first steps to understanding language and communication, and they are now aiding her in learning words and making sounds. Amani is now trying to imitatewords, demonstrating how she is gradually opening her mind to language and communication.

Before starting the intensive ABA programme, Amani didn’t have any understanding of instructions or commands. She is now able to follow simple instructions and label some objects. This has helped us as we can now ask her to do things, or stop her from putting herself in danger. She is becoming increasingly aware of others around her and their instructions.

Amani’s biggest gains have been in the area of imitation. Through imitation Amani has been developing new skills, such as playing with others, as well as learning and developing physically. Amani was severely delayed in all areas of gross motor, fine motor, symbolic and parallel play, however she has now nearly caught up with her peers, which I never thought I would see her do. She is able to hold a pencil, trace and cut with a pair of safety scissors. She is using her hands and fingers for different actions and tasks. She has even learned to wave ‘goodbye’ to others and blow kisses! Amani can now walk up the stairs by herself; this was something she really struggled with due to her poor co-ordination and gross motor skills. Getting Amani to do small tasks was a great physical challenge, especially as she began to grow heavier. She has now been going on regular walks to encourage her movement, this has helped her gain the ability to follow instructions, improve her gross motor, and her hypermobility.

Amani now plays with her siblings, and looks at toys with a different perspective in comparison to when she would just put them in her mouth and not understand the meaning of play. She is now able to do 20-piece puzzles, a huge improvement from not even being able to do a 2-piece puzzle! Her strengths lie in matching and problem solving, and threading has become her favourite thing to do when playing, something she couldn’t do a year ago due to her lack of fine gross motor skills. Amani is nearly toilet trained, and has developed an array of self-help skills, all of which help make her more independent. She is now able to dress and undress herself, as well as fasten and unfasten her own clothing. These skills, however small they may seem, have taken a huge amount of pressure away from her father and me, as we used to struggle to get her dressed, and it always took both of us to dress her.

Over the past few months the team that works with her has built on her focus, attention, and motivation. These are all things that have helped her in every aspect of life. She is becoming more focused and motivated by her surroundings to learn. Everyone who knows her has noticed the huge improvement she has made in such a small amount of time.

As a family, we can now enjoy things together, especially meals. Whereas Amani would refuse to sit and eat, she is now the least fussy eater out of all her siblings! In the span of a few months, we all feel that she is beginning to enjoy all aspects of a normal family life, like paying (and annoying) her siblings – all these things that children her age are meant to be doing. I am at a loss for words on Amani’s progress, and I thank the amazing chance that has been given to her and to us, her family. Over the last few months, not only has Amani improved, we have also been taught how to guide her and work on those small thing that she finds challenging. We know we still have a long road ahead until Amani reaches her full potential, but at least now I know that she is on that road, and that she will have a bright and independent future. It is such a pleasure to see our little Amani flourish, knowing that we are doing our best we can for her with the support that we are receiving from The Giving Tree Foundation. We are gradually beginning to function like a normal family, there are still challenges, but for now that helpless feeling is getting smaller as the days go by and Amani improves.”

Razwana, Amani’s mother