How CAN came to life…
A WEXFORD based couple who have offered untold support to children with autism, are the worthy recipients of the Health and Welfare People of the Year award.
Frederike Frederiks and Servaas Dodebier have dedicated their lives to giving early intervention’ to children with autism, with a view to helping them move on to main streem schooling. As founders of The Cottage School, the pair employed tutors who set up individual educational programmes for children with autism, and saw immediate progress in their own children. Through their dedication the paid campaigned to have the Department of Education provide a specific autism unit, and one is now established at Scoil Mhuire.
The unrelenting grit and determination of Frederike and and Servaas has helped over 30 children in Wexford, with a 57% success rate into mainstream schooling – a statistic which is even better than the experts anticipated.
As a result the Cottage Autism Network was born and now there are more than 50 families from Wexford who are members.
Early intervention for children with autism is crucial, and the first hurdle every parent encounters is getting a diagnose. Not deterred, Servaas and some friends from Irish Autism Action climed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds to found Solas, a diagnostic centre of excellence.
People can bring their child there and have them assessed by a full team of occupational therapists, psychologists and speech therapists. The ethos behind the centre is that a diagnosis is made within six weeks. More than 26 children frm Wexford children from Wexford have been assessed and thanks to the generosity of the people of Wexford, through Autism life cycle 2007, the burden of cost was reduced for these families. For many people their home has become a home from home for other concerned parents, where a warm welcome is always offered. As one of their nominators put it Their home is a place of hope, where the abnormal and sometimes idiosyncratic nature of our special children is treated as normal and no different, and where I for one, always left happier, and full of hope and determination, knowing I wasn’t alone in this one.’