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Twins Rose and River with mum Tiffany

Five-year-old River was diagnosed on the autism spectrum when he was aged 4. Prior to diagnosis, mum Tiffany Little said she knew River was developing a bit differently to his twin sister Rose however, because Rose had hit all her milestones early, she had given him a bit of leeway.

“River was always a little dreamier than Rose,” she said. “He used to cry and scream a lot, flail his arms around — we couldn’t leave the house.

“His behaviours became more noticeable when he started bush school. He wouldn’t join in and would have a high-pitched scream if he didn’t want to do something. He was always on his own. That’s when I decided to get him assessed for autism.”

Tiffany said the family was living in Margaret River at the time of River’s diagnosis but moved to Perth soon after to ensure he had access to the best autism interventions available. “I had heard of CliniKids and wanted River to go there because the therapies were science based and they had new therapies unavailable elsewhere,” she said.

“I also knew how much research went into the therapies and this gave me confidence in knowing River was getting the best science-backed interventions available. I wanted to take him to the best because the foundations for the rest of his life are built in these critical early years.”

Tiffany said River was a ‘totally different child’ since starting at CliniKids a little over a year ago. He had improved his social skills, was talking more, could start conversations and knew more appropriate ways of expressing his emotions.

“At kindy, River wouldn’t or couldn’t play with other kids – he simply didn’t like to interact with others,” she said. “Through treatment, he has learnt to play with someone other than myself or Rose and he’s also learnt to allow for flexibility in play. He’s also learnt so much from Rose.”

Tiffany said River’s transition to pre-primary had gone well and he had made friends. “He loves his friends, and they love him, and their conversations are so cute,” she said. Tiffany said the family also participated in research at CliniKids.

 “We will continue to take part in research, not only for River and our family’s benefit, but to help other children on the autism spectrum,” she said.