Our Stories

You Helped Mateo Prepare for School

July 20, 2023

Mateo is a friendly, creative, and smart 5-year-old boy who has attended the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program for the past two years. He is passionate about world geography and climate and can easily recite all the world’s continents without missing a beat.  Mateo’s smile lights up a room, and he will graciously offer you a hug or a fist bump to let you know that he cares about you. 

But things were not always so easy for Mateo.

As a toddler, Mateo struggled to communicate and in his frustration would scratch and bite to get his point across.  He really didn’t like being touched and had a hard time regulating his emotions. More than not, Mateo wouldn’t react to his name being called.

All of this confused Mateo’s mom and dad. Why was Mateo’s behaviour so unbalanced? Was it possible that Mateo had a problem with his hearing? Why wasn’t he hitting all the usual milestones that many children experience?

Mateo with his mom and dad – Violeta and Lance, sitting on a couch

With so many questions, Mateo’s parents, Violeta and Lance headed to their pediatrician to see if they could find a solution.  After many tests and much time waiting on a specialist, it was finally determined that Mateo has autism.

While this diagnosis can be a scary outcome for any parent, Violeta and Lance took it with stride, relieved by knowing what they needed to do next. Violeta and Lance found St.Amant and they knew after their first meeting that this would be the right program for Mateo.

It didn’t take too long for things to change for Mateo once he arrived at St.Amant. With the benefit of sensory toys, one-on-one support, and a structured schedule, Mateo’s behaviour began to change. Communication started to get easier, changing frustrating situations into positive outcomes.

Sensory toys such as the new swings purchased thanks to your support, were used to access gross motor and sensory experiences, all while giving Mateo the opportunity to learn social skills with new friends as they shared and pushed each other on the swing. 

Mateo swinging on the new sensory swing

All children are different in how they learn and grow. For children with Autism, having the many resources that are offered through St.Amant makes a tremendous difference for not only the child but for their family.  Violeta feels incredibly fortunate saying, “We are so grateful to St.Amant and to the many donors who helped support such a great program. Not only has Mateo become the caring and friendly child he is today, but we have been given the tools that we need to help him continue on this new path”.

Mateo is excited to graduate at the end of August from the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program.  September marks a new milestone for Mateo that he is eagerly anticipating, his first day of grade 1!

Thanks to your support, St.Amant is able to offer the necessary tools to children with autism and thanks to you, Mateo is ready to make new friends and shine in his new classroom.