Liam Madill was just 18 months old when his family began noticing disturbing and worsening behaviour problems.
“You couldn’t imagine what a day was like. I was in survival mode trying to contain the chaos. He just went from one tantrum to the next,” recalled his mother Melanie. “Liam couldn’t go from playing with one toy to another without having a complete meltdown, screaming, crying, throwing himself on the floor because he couldn’t communicate.”
A medical assessment determined Liam suffered from autism.
“I think when you’re in the throes of it it’s hard to see and I think you love your kids so much you’re just in the day-to-day. You can’t see the forest for the trees,” said Madill. “I was upset at first because it was just one more thing and I guess I just wanted him to be my stubborn little boy.”
About a year later she began taking her son to the OSNS Child Development Centre, where he continues to receive help.
And according to mom the changes in Liam, who is now five, were incredible.
“I used to avoid like the plague taking Liam anywhere because it always ended up in chaos, and now he is in kindergarten, he can go anywhere, do anything, he loves people. He’s just a bundle of joy and he’s happy.” she said. “Oh my goodness if the centre had not been there we’d still be at square one.
“They’re (staff) so caring, they focus on the things he needs in an environment with people he loves and trusts.”
Madill is just one of the family members who is sharing their success stories on the Nov. 9 Shaw Share a Smile Telethon and Online Auction 12 to 5 p.m.
It will be broadcast live on Shaw television and a live streamed on the centre’s website www.osns.org.
Madill added it is not only Liam who has benefited from OSNS services.
“They’ve been amazing for me too,” she said. “If I’m having trouble, there’s always somebody there to help, to talk you off the ledge so to speak. Now my whole family have our lives back.”
OSNS executive director Manisha Willms added that support for clients is a key component of the help available.
“It’s so difficult those first years after a child is diagnosed with a difficulty, especially when your little ones are so young,” said Willms, who noted proceeds from the telethon literally keep the centre doors open. “We want to be is a place where families can come and cry and laugh and rage and do whatever they need to do in the course of learning about their child and how to advocate for them.”
Last year’s event raised about $42,000 to cover related costs of assisting over 300 families in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.
The centre also provides programs for children who have physical issues, and one of the goals this year is to raise money specifically for a paediatric climbing wall for the physio room. Online bidding for the raffle items begins Nov. 7 on the website running through Sunday.
This year Willms is also encouraging people to donate their time to assist with ongoing projects.