Cooper has a brighter future

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Cooper and his family were in crisis. But with Minda’s support they have seen a drastic change. Will you please consider making a contribution to rescuing a family who is about to fall apart?

Cooper lives with autism. His loving family do everything they can to support him, but his behaviour is becoming more and more dangerous for his mum, Robyn, and his ten-year-old brother, Seth.

“For a long time we weren’t really living. We were barely getting through each day. We were desperate,” recalls Cooper’s dad, Greg.

Every day, Cooper’s family can see his frustration. Unable to communicate or understand the world around him, Cooper responds with violence and often brings harm to himself and his family.

“Cooper is non-verbal and constantly anxious.

I try to imagine what it must be like for him, not to be able to talk or communicate with anybody. To want things. To not want things. To be forced to do things and not understand why. It’s very difficult for him” says Greg.

On countless occasions, Robyn has found herself covering up her injuries before leaving for work, worried that people might get the wrong idea:

“It’s so hard to explain to people the kind of strength Cooper has – even though he’s just eight years old. Seth and I would have to lock ourselves in a bedroom, worried that he’d break through the door,” Robyn explains.

As a baby, there was no sign Cooper’s childhood would be any different to his two brothers’. But at eighteen months old, Cooper’s development started to decline - Robyn says it was like the lights went out overnight.

Autism is a life-long developmental disability. It can range from moderate to severe. Cooper has severe autism, which means he will likely always need specialised support, but it is difficult to say exactly how he will be affected in the future.

“It felt like all my hopes and dreams for him just disappeared,” says Greg.

“When you’re expecting a baby, you think, I’m going to give them the best start in life. I’m going to make sure they’re educated, that they can look after themselves and one day be able to go off, be independent, be happy and have their own lives.

It’s a parent’s dream to see their child reach certain milestones, but we just can’t have the same expectations for Cooper’s future.”

Unfortunately, when a child has such high needs, their siblings often miss out on the attention and support that they need. Cooper’s brother, Seth, who is only ten, has had to grow up very quickly.

Cooper’s outbursts were understandably very frightening for Seth and led to sleeplessness and nightmares.

With Cooper’s frequent meltdowns and increasing violence, Seth was identified as a child at risk of being harmed by his own brother.

Can you imagine how upsetting that would be as a parent?

They were dark days for the family, but Robyn says Minda gave them a glimmer of hope when they started accessing our Vacation Care program.

“I loved the way the support workers genuinely enjoyed being around Cooper. They were having fun with him, which was really nice.”

Although Vacation Care had been a welcome short-term relief, it was clear that Cooper and his family needed further support.

Robyn and Greg distinctly remember the day they started getting the level of support they needed to cope day to day – 15 November 2015.

Every day since then, two Minda support workers go to their home and spend four hours with Cooper.

The right support can make a huge difference to a struggling family. Will you support people living with intellectual disability this tax time by making a donation today?

Minda’s in-home respite has changed Cooper’s world.

The support workers give him experience in the community, reinforce techniques from his therapists and present him with opportunities to try new things.

“I think that Cooper has a real quality of life now - because he’s happy, he’s out doing things and interacting with different people.”

One of Cooper’s major developments has been in his communication. Only recently, Cooper has learnt to communicate “I want” through sign language.

Can you imagine living eight years with a child who is completely non-verbal, with no way to express themselves?

Robyn, Greg and Seth say Cooper’s behaviour has greatly improved since receiving support from Minda and the whole family is benefitting. They had gotten to a point where they were barely functioning day-to-day.

Today, they can’t believe how much has changed.

As I’ve said to so many people in the last three months - we couldn’t go back.

We are always worried that for some reason we are going to be thrust back into that life, but with Minda, we hope that we won’t have to.

It would be impossible to live that life again,” Greg says.

At Minda, we are passionate about supporting families who need it the most, families who have nowhere else to turn - but we need your help to continue to do this.

I hope you can show your support of Minda, and families just like Cooper’s, by making a donation today.

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