If you had told Zoe a few years ago that her son, Troy, would find a circle of friends, be invited on playdates, help her out around the home and receive awards at school, she wouldn’t have believed it.  

These things felt out of reach for her seven-year-old who struggled to get through a school day. But with her and her husband Mitch’s unwavering support, guidance from his teachers and the right support services, this is exactly what Troy would achieve – all within the space of a single year.  

Zoe and Troy
Zoe (Troy's Mum) and Troy enjoying a cafe outing together

Debbie, Troy’s teacher last year, reflects on the difficulties he was facing in her classroom on account of his then-undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  

“When Troy first started, things were really tricky. He would quite often storm out the classroom, doors would be slamming and furniture would be thrown,” Debbie explains. 

Troy is a bright and creative boy, but his sensory processing and emotional regulation challenges meant he struggled with the noisy classroom environment and having other children occupy his space.  

Troy's supportive Teachers, Debbie (left) and Fontina (right)
Troy’s teachers recommended getting an assessment done and Zoe’s friend, who also has a son with autism, pointed her towards The Benevolent Society. This is where she met Occupational Therapist, Pat. 

“We sat down with Pat for about an hour discussing all Troy's quirks – his likes, dislikes… everything. And he then came up with a plan of what to focus on with Troy throughout the year, which involved having regular Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology sessions,” Zoe says. 

It takes a village 

Luisa, Troy’s Speech Pathologist, says that children with ASD and ADHD can make amazing progress with a committed support network behind them.  

“It’s a team effort, it’s not just the child themselves. We’ve got to work with the family and school unit to get the best therapy results,” she says. 

As Troy experiences most of his challenges at school, this is also where he receives his services. Debbie and Fontina, Troy’s current teacher, happily joined forces with Zoe and Luisa to see Troy thrive – and that’s exactly what he’s done.  

“When he started with me, he couldn't see anything from somebody else's point of view. It was all about him, how he was feeling, and what he wanted. He has changed now. Now he sees that other children and people have got a voice,” Debbie says. 

Zoe has noticed the same changes at home. “He'll come up to me and give me a kiss and go, ‘I love you mummy’. And if I say, ‘Oh, do you mind cleaning up some stuff?’ He'll pick it up and he'll put it away, where beforehand he would have a meltdown,” Zoe says, smiling. 

Through the combination of therapies and medication to help him manage his ADHD, doors began opening for Troy and his education and friendships could finally flourish.  

“He has a group of friends that he’s really happy to see; they come in, hug each other in the morning. He's just really happy coming to school. He's doing all of his work and writing and drawing in his story books. He's now coming in saying, ‘I wanna start it. I wanna finish it,’” Fontina says. 

The school Troy goes to caters predominantly to Aboriginal children like Troy and each term they hand out a ‘Deadly Learner Award’ to a student who’s shown real commitment to their education. Debbie and Fontina were overjoyed when they could award Troy with one. 
“We've all really celebrated his achievements. When we met with Zoe and Mitch, they were just so excited that he was actually coming to school, and then he got the Deadly Learner Award!” Fontina shares. 

Not only is Fontina impressed by Troy’s newfound dedication to his learning, she credits Troy and the support network who helped get him there. 

“Troy’s parents have been amazing. Between Troy’s family, The Benevolent Society and us, it's just been a process of everyone supporting each other,” she says. 

“I am super proud of how far Troy has come along in his journey, and I am so happy to be part of that. He has achieved so much in quite a short span of time,” Luisa agrees. 

Troy smiling
A happy Troy giving the thumbs up

Troy’s wellbeing has always been Zoe’s top priority, so she’s grateful to have a dedicated team who are committed to his wellbeing and happiness.  

“At the end of the day, everything we do is for Troy. He's such a bright little boy and I just really want him to excel, so I will get him any help he needs. The Benevolent Society has just been absolutely amazing. They keep me up to date with how his therapies are going, they text me weekly to tell me what they did that day and make me feel like I’m part of it all,” she says. 

But her real confidence in the Benevolent Society services comes not from the ongoing correspondence, but from Troy’s own reactions.

“After a therapy session, Troy always runs out with a smile on his face,” Zoe says. 

To find out more about how The Benevolent Society can help you, please call our Support Centre at 1800 236 762 or view our Services & Programs page.