‘A place where it’s ok to have Autism without anyone trying to fix anyone, a place to just be you.’ With this philosophy in mind John and Sharon Demopoulos created The Treehouse Geelong in 2008.
‘Most times having a child with autism is amazing but occasionally there are hard times, lonely times and every one of you knows what I mean, so we want to bring everyone together to talk to others about the wonders you experience every day and the bad experiences too. Let’s work together to make a place where spinning, flapping, lining things up and just being plain unsociable is the norm.’ [The Treehouse website]
Run by families living with Autism for families living with Autism, at The Treehouse they understand the extreme loneliness, frustration and isolation that families can experience. Waiting for a formal assessment and diagnosis, looking for the right programs and school and joining long waiting lists can be extremely overwhelming and confusing.
Current facilitators Lisa and Mark Hamling, who took over in 2015, are working together with YMCA Geelong to make a place that offers unparalleled support for families in the Geelong region. With around one child in 150 diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia, hundreds of local families are in need of support.
Recognising a need for a local ‘whole family’ friendship and support network they provide opportunities for people to talk to someone who can offer guidance from a parent’s perspective. You will be speaking to the parent of a child with Autism so you know that you are talking to someone who understands what you are experiencing. You will be able to utilise the untapped resource of knowledge that you can only get from others who have been where you’re going.
A number of support and social groups are offered, providing regular opportunities to socialise and create a network of friends outside the school environment, learn from shared experiences and simply to have fun. We also hold Family Fun Days and Fundraisers. See the group’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Treehouse.Geelong/ or website for details. Treehouse is currently looking for new premises- let us know if you can help out.
‘We love seeing the faces on the kids when they step outside their comfort zones and succeed at something new. You can see they are proud of themselves,’ says Lisa Hamling.
In the picture Chloe Hayden is dressed up, she is with Annie Stephens.