The Matos Family


We have been living in Ballito for 10 years now and our son, Leandro was born in 2010.   He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 2, although looking back I guess there were obvious signs from much earlier.  Of course it was a difficult thing to accept and we grieved the loss of the life we had envisioned for ourselves and especially for our precious little boy.  We took him to paediatric specialists (as per the recommended pathway) and audiologists, but our biggest guidance came from an Occupational Therapy assessment that started a journey of learning and growth – for both Leandro and us! 

In 2013 we serendipitously heard about a presentation to be hosted at what’s now the Simbithi Gymnasium,  by an Occupational therapist, Nicola Stirton, who seemed to have a special interest in Special needs  .  We left that presentation feeling a warmth and determination that’s difficult to explain…. Nicola spoke to our hearts and the following year Leandro would go on to be one of Bloom’s inaugural learners!

In 2014, we welcomed Leandro’s baby sister, Alyssa, who has completed our family in so many ways.  She exudes kindness and empathy beyond her 6 years and her brother is by far her biggest fan! 

We moved Leandro to an ASD specific school in 2015, but our journey returned us to Bloom in 2017.  Bloom is a perfect fit for Leandro – he is happy to go school, and there’s a very special feeling when we walk into Bloom every morning .  Everyone greets by name,  with a smile and often a (now almost forbidden) hug.   Bloom staff are always looking out for Leandro’s best interests and are never afraid to innovate and learn new strategies and adapt…. all things our son needs a school to be.

Leandro also attends the Autism Project after school, conveniently located in Eden Village too, and we have regular team meetings, which is awesome and keeps us focused on all avenues of his therapy.  Whilst we know we have a long way to go on our journey, we can’t help but be so grateful and proud that our baby boy has come so far.  Our biggest celebration is how engaged he has become in the last few years and watching his personality develop has been so beautifully special.

What would you say to parents strating their special needs journey?

Find perfection in the imperfect and be kind to yourself.  Let your child not be defined by a diagnosis and always be their biggest cheerleader.

What is your most inspiring quote: 

Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”

What I would like to say to parents considering Bloom as an option?

Come visit and see the smiles that will greet your child and the love that flows over Bloom.  An added bonus is a team that is driven to provide evidence-based, up to date therapy for all special needs children.

Roel and Ria