Bale and Early Start Australia

Mwajemi came to Australia as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, looking for protection for her family of six children. Bale was born here and, at three, was diagnosed with Level 3 Autism.

That's when a new journey started. 

To begin with, Mwajemi didn't know what she and her family needed to support Bale. So she advocated for Bale, asked questions, and got support where she could.

Eventually, she was able to get the all-important autism diagnosis for Bale, which allowed them to access and implement support services. 

This was when they met Apo, an Occupational Therapist at Early Start Australia in Westbourne Park, SA. Apo is on a team of allied health professionals.

It's a multidisciplinary approach that allows Early Start to get as many support services as possible around a child and the family. 

Bale and his family at Early Start

A therapy journey is different for every client and every family. It begins with a meeting with the family and the child to best understand their needs and what they want out of therapy. 

In the two years since Apo started therapy with Bale, his role has changed and evolved as Bale has grown and developed.

"I was initially working with Bale at school and didn't have the most connection within the home environment. But as our therapy progressed and our needs changed, I started to move into the home more and work really closely with the family." 

As with most cases like Bale's, the therapy has made a huge difference to both the child and the family.

Says Mwajemi, "Apo is the first person I had so he was teaching him to toilet himself, to understand, to play with things, take things from the fridge. And he loves him.  

"Bale loves coming to the service here or seeing Apo at home. Early Start has supported not only Bale but my family. 

"I feel comfortable. I can go to work because I know Bale is supported by Early Start, and always with Apo, we are comfortable and trust the service." 

Bale with Mwajemi and Apo during a therapy session

The bond they have formed is wonderful, and Apo's looking forward to what's coming next and the future he can help create, "For Bale, the journey has just been a lot of fun… The goals that Bale has had have just developed as he's developed.

"A lot of the goals were some of those things inside the classroom. Now, it's moved to supporting Bale in his own home and in the community. 

"I see him being out and about, doing things with support. Having a sense of work or just having a sense of being able to explore the world. And I think that's very exciting." 

Mwajemi believes that without the support of an OT like Apo and the services of other professionals, Bale would not be where he is today.

"He's laughing, he's happy. So in one sentence or one word, it's amazing to have Early Start."