Carer retreat creates connections

Transitioning from primary to high school can be a difficult time for pre-teens, particularly for people with disability.

Worries about not fitting in, new routines, meeting new people or making new friends are common.

A new retreat run by Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) for seven young people on the Autism spectrum and their carers has helped give them a great start to their new school year and strengthen bonds.

Mel Spencer enjoyed the trip to Rye with her daughter Hope, aged 12.

“There were so many benefits… peer support and not feeling so alone, realising that your child does fit in when he is with his/her own tribe, swapping stories, swapping resources, feeling connected and empowered as we embark on a new journey of transitioning to high school,” Mel said.

“It was great to talk to others who are at the same life stage.  Whilst our children are all different, there is an element of commonality that makes it reassuring for us as parents that we really are doing ok, instead of comparing ourselves constantly to others at school who do not have any Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and feeling like a failure.”

Mel said it was fantastic to see Hope make friends and enjoy all the activities.

“She asked me when she is catching up again with her new friends.”

Lifestyle and Respite Case Manager Molly McAuliffe said the retreat was the first of its kind run by VMCH for the school transition age group.

“We had such fantastic feedback from parents, some of whom said they could not afford a weekend away ordinarily. They were extremely grateful for the connections they were able to make with other parents, to see their children socialise so well with other kids, and also to have some special one-on-one time with their own children.”

For more information, call 1300 971 720.