Ryley is 13, loves hanging out with his friends, and is passionate about everything to do with wrestling. Ryley describes himself as a “happy go lucky, really funny guy who loves to talk.” He’s charismatic and enjoys telling jokes. Ryley also has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The early years
Ryley’s early years were challenging for his family. He felt different to other children, and struggled socially and in the playground. In his own words, Ryley says:
“I was a little bit quirky; I wasn’t really that social with other kids. I had less words”.
Ryley and his mum, Annette, visited specialists and he underwent screening for a number of conditions. It took more than twelve months to get his diagnosis confirmed. At age eight, Ryley was diagnosed with ASD.
Ryley’s therapy journey
After his initial diagnosis, Ryley attended therapy, receiving support from both speech and occupational therapists.
“Talking practice [speech therapy] taught me my social skills, how to start conversations,” Ryley says. “It made life much easier for Mum.”
Intense interests are a common trait in child with ASD (Autism Association of Western Australia, 2020). Through therapy, Ryley learned to embrace his intense interest in wrestling, helping him find a way for his passion to be meaningful and functional in his everyday life.
“I love wrestling and I eat, sleep, and breathe everything wrestling. I hope to one day be a wrestler at WWE wrestling.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to have so many amazing therapists help me over the past 11 years. I wouldn’t be the awesome guy I am today if it wasn’t for all the amazing people who have helped me to grow, overcome and conquer all the challenges I have faced.”
What specific challenges do kids with ASD face?
- Social communication including receptive communication and expressive communication
- Repetitive and restricted patterns of behaviour
- Executive function skills (easily distracted, not listening, trouble paying attention, always late etc.)
You can find more details on the challenges children with autism may face, by visiting the Autism Association of Western Australia.
How we can help
Kites Children’s Therapy, based in Victoria Park in Perth and Hobart in Tasmania, has a range of therapies to support children with ASD and their families.
Our Dog-Assisted Therapy program helps children with emotional regulation, social skills development, and play and language skills, all with support from a qualified Occupational Therapist.
“Dog-Assisted Therapy helps motivate children to actively engage in the therapy process. The presence of Bazza (our beautiful, gentle Therapy Dog) creates an enjoyable, non-threatening environment in which children can feel safe and supported,” explains Kate, one of Kites’ Occupational Therapists.
The Kites motto is ‘every child, any challenge’, and we support children with any challenge they face. From intensive therapy programs across a number of areas, to kids who just need a little bit of extra support.
To my younger self – Ryley’s advice
So, what advice would Ryley give to ‘his younger self’; to younger children with ASD, or their parents?
“If I could go back I’d love to tell Ryley that it all gets better,” he says.
“I guess my tip to parents would be to be patient. That your child will learn some skills to be able to cope in the playground.”
“I think telling my story will help other families facing daily challenges. If you work hard and believe you can do it you can conquer anything,” says Ryley.