US therapy trip for autistic boy
A FAMILY from Highworth is about to set off on a trip that could change their son's life.
Thomas Hunter, 12, who is autistic, spoke to his delighted parents for the first time in December.
His parents, Sima, 48, and Shaun, 47, who works for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency near Didcot, have been following the revolutionary Son-rise programme for just over a year and are taking Thomas to America for two weeks to study the programme intensively.
The couple, along with their other son Scott, 14, will jet out to Massachusetts at the weekend so Thomas and his parents can take part in a two-week intensive course of therapy that could help him to interact with his parents.
They will live in a house where trained professionals will work with the family, hoping to encourage Thomas, who attends Uplands Special School, to talk.
"We are very positive he will be improved," said Mrs Hunter.
"At this time however we don't know what the programme will actually do for Thomas.
"The entire two weeks will be led by him and he will have about 95 hours of one to one therapy.
"If Thomas wants to go on leaps and bounds then we will follow but if he doesn't then we will be there to tell him that's okay and we love him no matter what.
"It doesn't matter to me if there is no big change in Thomas when we leave America," said Mrs Hunter.
"I will still love him.
"Of course I want the world for him but whatever I get I will be happy."
The Son-Rise programme is based on play and communication.
As reported in the Advertiser, Thomas spoke for the first time in December, uttering the words "go" and "yes".
Since then the words have started to become clearer.
"They may only be small steps but they are very significant to us," said Mrs Hunter.
"The process has been a slow one for us but everything that has happened has been positive and we hope this trip will be too."
And the family is sharing its experiences with the Ward family from Pinehurst.
The Advertiser has reported how six-year-old Richie suffers from autism and is also following the Son-rise programme.
"We have met the family and have had a chat about the programme," said Mrs Hunter.
"It's nice for us to have other people to speak to who understand the programme."
At the moment Thomas spends about 12 hours a week in a focus room that encourages him to interact with his parents.
But they are appealing for volunteers to come forward so the amount of time he spends in the room can be increased.
If you think you could help Thomas to communicate call Sima on 01793 762307.