Sydney couple open first daycare centre for children with autism

A Sydney couple Dennys Martinez and his wife Maria Huayllasco – have opened Australia’s first family daycare service for children with autism.

They told ABC News reporter,Sharon O’Neill they were devastated when their two children Eric and Maya, now 5 and 7 , were diagnosed with autism.

They explained how this was a life-changing experience for them and that they needed to try and understand what they needed to do in order to help their children develop.

In order to do this the family went to the United States and accessed the Son-Rise program – which is a home-based child centred treatment developed by parents for parents.

Mr Martinez said:

“It was a program that made me feel that I was not alone,”

They learned about sensory integration and relationship-based play. Once home they wanted to put this knowledge into practice. They then opened up their home as Australia’s first ever home daycare centre for children with autism.

Mr Martinez said:

“It’s a home environment with small numbers of children with a lot of support. It also meant we could help children up to the age of 12.”

The daycare centre opened last September.

Ms Huayllasco said:

“We’ve been through our journey, we know we’ve been able to do a lot and we could actually help other people to do the same thing for their children,”

Mr Martinez said that many parents ask him what drives him to work with autistic children when he has two of his own. He said:

“I say to them I don’t see a child with a disability, I see a child with potential,”

He continued to add:

“I just need to nurture it in the right way and help them and they will find their way.”

The original article by Sharon O’Neill on the ABC News website can be read here