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Supporting Families

in Latest News, Stories of Independence


Image of a family of four; Mum, Dad, daughter and son sitting on a beach hugging and smiling at the camera
Image of Damian and Joscelyn Gysen with their children Abigail 8 and Alexander 5 on Bellerive Beach. Photo By: Fiona Harding

VisAbility Tasmania’s Eastern Shore Children’s Therapy Centre provides much needed support for families to get through the challenges of day to day life. Rokeby residents Joscelyn and Damien Gysen knew that parenthood would be challenging, but with their son Alexander diagnosed with autism and daughter Abigail with ADHD, life just takes that little extra organisation. The family have been visiting the Centre for around two years now and have seen huge improvements with their children.

Simple activities like transitioning from the classroom to the car could take 45mins or so for Alexander, before Occupational Therapist Heidi Smit from VisAbility came into the school and derived a strategy. Mum Joscelyn explains,

“Alex loves dinosaurs so we would do a dinosaur hunt. Now it only takes 5 minutes to get him from the car to the classroom because he is looking for his dinosaurs.They are just little cards, but it is really just a simple idea to cut the time by 40 minutes. He latched onto it really quickly. Most of the help has been to assist him through school. Ideally we want him to fit in and be the same as other kids. He is very proprioceptive and responds well to heavy pressure on the joints. By understanding how he is, that has helped me to understand him, make his experiences so much better and minimise his meltdowns. The meltdowns are now less frequent; before he was having them constantly”.

Mum Joscelyn knows that having support and knowing that there are people available to answer any questions is a huge comfort.

Heidi’s knowledge is amazing and it is great to have someone to back me up. Alex is very social but does have a lot of anxieties and a different understanding. Sometimes the visuals work and sometimes they don’t. His speech patterns are unusual and he has trouble accessing memories. He is very different every day.


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