Starting High School can be a challenging time for any young person, let alone a child with additional needs.
Two young friends, Otto van de Wijgaart and Joel Cunningham, are about to embark on their high school journey together.
Otto has Autism and is the oldest of four children.
Joel is the oldest of two children and was born with a congenital heart defect resulting in two open heart operations.
He also is diagnosed as having global developmental delay, mild Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Processing Disorder, and esophageal problems, which means he can only eat mashed and pureed foods.
What makes the story of these two young men special is that these two boys started early intervention at Port Stephens together, at the age of three, and have pretty much been together ever since, throughout their school years at Wirreanda Public School, and now as they continue this journey together at Irrawang High School.
The boys have been going to transition visits at Irrawang, which will prepare them for the big transition next year.
The boys have been at different times of the school day to experience the different routines and the way that high school runs compared to primary school.
The next visit for the boys will be a “Friendship Building” visit where the boys will visit the high school and go to the movies with the other additional needs students already attending the high school.
Both boys are very excited and a little nervous, but are looking forward to high school next year.
Both families of the boys are so very proud of them and how far they have come.
Symone Cunningham, Joel’s Mother, told News Of The Area, “The boys are well known and loved in the Medowie community, and it is wonderful to see them taking this step together, they have made us so proud.”