Tom’s Story

Tom is 11 years old and is a kind, caring and intelligent boy. He has a passion for STEM subjects and his goal is to work at NASA. Growing up he met all his developmental milestones but had issues with socialising and was bullied at school.

His mother Ruth explains, “Tom is often the policeman. If someone was playing and they should be doing their schoolwork, he’d announce it to the whole class. Obviously, that doesn’t go down well. He also talks loudly. He can’t change topics or subjects, he’s not good at transitioning. When he tells a story that should take two minutes, it takes 10. He was also having meltdowns.

“In a new town, at a new school and within two weeks of starting, the teachers pulled us aside and said, ‘Look, we think Tom is struggling more than his peers’. I immediately sought help. My GP recommended and organised a referral to Royal Far West.”

Tom came to RFW to be assessed by our multidisciplinary team to work out where he was struggling.

“It was a full-on week. There were so many appointments all packed in. We saw a nurse, an orthoptist, a psychologist, a consultant paediatric psychiatrist and a social worker. We also saw the paediatrician, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist”, says Ruth.

“I can honestly say, everyone from the bookings team to the multidisciplinary team, to the accommodation staff are nothing short of extraordinary. They’re professional, genuine, empathetic and compassionate. It was completely faultless.”

The results, as Ruth explains, were that “Tom had three diagnoses: one was anxiety, which was already diagnosed and confirmed; the second one was ADHD, which had previously been diagnosed; and Autism One. So, he had the trifecta.

“The impact that RFW had on us – it wasn’t just Tom but our family – was immeasurable. Tom said it was the best holiday he ever had. That’s how they made him feel. Before Tom had felt quite hopeless because of all the bullying and he kept having the same issues no matter where he went. Coming to RFW – all the different specialists putting him at ease – he actually hasn’t had any treatment yet. It’s the feeling of hope and knowing that there’s help, there’s people cheering him on. Tom knows there’s other people the same as him, that he’s not ‘less than’ and he can still reach his full potential. That means everything to Tom!

Having all those people at RFW make the diagnosis has also helped my former partner, who didn’t believe in the previous diagnoses, accept it. It also means Tom won’t have to suffer for the rest of his life”, she says.

Summing up, Tom’s mum says, “If I had to give advice to families in a similar situation to us, I say, absolutely without a doubt, get a referral from your GP to RFW. It will be a life-changer. You’ll feel confident in their thoroughness. You will feel supported, and you won’t want to leave!”.

*To ensure privacy and confidentiality for our client family, real names or images are not used.