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"If I had to sum up what I CAN means I should say that they are the light at the end of the tunnel for these children..."
Matty's Father

Matty's Story

"If I had to sum up what I CAN means I should say that they are the light at the end of the tunnel for these children, the superglue that mends families who are at breaking point. I feel very much that Matty is a little boy who has been lost and found. I know how hard it has been for Matty to learn to communicate, thank you I CAN for giving him back his smile."

Mark, father of Matty

By the time Matty was three, it became clear that he wasn't adding on and combining words into phrases like his peers. Our first experience with the speech and language services was far from pleasant. We were told that his language delay would affect every element of his development and that he would struggle severely with his school work and social development later on. We were given three sheets of black and white pictures to help and told that there was no one-to-one speech and language therapy available. Instead, the plan for preschool children with these difficulties was six monthly assessments.

Matty's demeanour and behaviour began to decline. By the time he started at the mainstream school nursery he was often mute and he'd sit under the table with his hands over his ears. He struggled to make friends and sadly was bullied and became more and more isolated and withdrawn – as parents we were devastated. We continued to push for further support and I'm not ashamed to tell you that I wept down the phone whilst his referral for occupational therapy had been overlooked for a third time.

My wife spent many hours on the internet and has read more than I can fully comprehend. It was during these searches that she came across 'Talking Point', I CAN's website for parents. We attended the Bill Harrison Assessment Centre at Meath School for two days in October 2007. Our experience of assessments at the hospital had been a barrage of questions directed at us, with a cursory glance in Matty's direction. The beauty of the I CAN assessment suite setting is that he immediately felt at ease in surroundings that he could identify with. He was happy and cooperative, the speech therapist was able to assess him for the first time in over two years and for the first time he was seen by a whole team of professionals at one time, who worked together to give us an in depth picture of what was going on.

When the team reported back to us I was shocked to the core to learn that Matty had a severe language disorder. The occupational therapist was also able to identify a physical problem with his core stability that has affected the way that he uses his senses. We learned that he would need extensive speech and language therapy and needed to have visual and language support from every person that was involved with him during his school day. We were given the website address which enabled us to find an independent speech and language therapist. From the report, we managed to gain permission from our Head Master for the therapist to work within the school, giving training to his teaching assistant who works with him for fifteen hours per week.

Since the assessment and the subsequent specialist support and intervention, Matty's and our lives have changed irrevocably.

Matty's Father