My name is Nuala Gardner, I am the mother of Dale now age 22yrs who in 1991 had severe classical autism, my daughter Amy now age 10, also has autism, diagnosed in 2003. Thankfully, for Dale, despite no recognised autism provision and poor understanding of the condition, 20 years ago, despite this, Dale was privileged to have received the right educational intervention. As his parents we became Dale's "specialised" teachers, intensively working with him at home. With this intervention from us and Dale having condition specific education at school, allowed him to slowly for the first five years of his life, begin to emerge from his autistic world, albeit at a snails pace.
However, when Dale was five, there was one teacher in particular who threw us a lifeline, called Henry, that entered our lives. Henry was a very "special" teacher that excelled in every way to helping Dale progress there after at an impressive rate. Henry alone was instrumental in transforming not only Dale's life but ours as a family as well. This amazing teacher was completely different in every way than we could have ever imagined. Henry had unique qualities, that no human could posses, to enable him to reach Dale, when all our efforts failed. Henry was different in that, as Dale's teacher and educational facilitator, he had four legs and a tail, and our first family puppy, but he was no ordinary golden retriever companion dog for Dale. Dale connected and came to love his dog so much, that he was "honored" to name him after his favourite train from the Thomas the Tank Engine series, that was, 'Henry" the green engine number three. Because of Dale's remarkable progress was due in no small part to Henry, Dale thrived and grew up to be able to this day "lead" a normal quality of life.......... in spite of having autism.