Skip Navigation

Matthew's Story

Written by - Paula and Al Cowling, Matthew’s parents

Our son, Matthew, was diagnosed with severe autism when he was just over two years of age.  He had always been under stimulated in terms of movement and there were many difficulties in conversation and social situations. In October of 2016, Al and I watched an episode on the Nature of Things about neuroplasticity and how the brain heals itself. Watching the show we were introduced to the Listening Centre and we knew right away that having Matthew go to the Centre was a perfect fit. 

In February 2017, Matthew started his program and we observed tremendous growth and tremendous change. The biggest change, and we still see it changing, was a huge increase in the development of his vestibular system. Matthew is climbing, jumping, running and so much more comfortable in his own space.

Matthew is growing in leaps and bounds in social situations.  He had his first ever little buddy birthday party. He has a number of friends in his class who look out for him and invite him to participate in whatever they’re doing.

There is huge growth in speech as well. Now Matthew seems to want to engage with people and to speak more often. He tells me he loves me and looks at me - all things that weren’t there before. It is such a joy for us to receive these gifts at a later time, particularly after the challenging years of not understanding what was going on.

Wow! The quality of engagement has really shifted. Now Matthew is listening, watching and paying attention in school and in his surroundings. He continues to love music, singing and listening to different languages. I feel like I am getting to know my son every day and I just love it.  Matthew is always surprising us with the wonderful mystery he is. His classmates just love him as do his teachers and EA’s. Everyone is noticing and supporting his growth. 

At the Christmas concert this year Al and I received an incredible surprise gift. Everyone kept it a secret that Matthew was the master of ceremonies for the evening. Dressed as a DJ in a black fedora and wearing a black moustache, he was front and centre before 300 people introducing each of the performances. It was amazing to see how much he was enjoying himself, tapping his foot to the music and looking out into the audience. He was very comfortable, very relaxed and spontaneous. It took our breath away to see how far Matthew has come. There has also been a huge growth in Matthew’s independence at home and in school. 

Matthew loves every minute of his time at the Listening Centre. He talks about it for days.  It is a very special place for him. Paul Madaule is fantastic and so helpful. The staff at the Centre is also wonderful. Whenever we go it’s like visiting old friends and family. Everyone loves Matthew.  I can’t find the words to say how thankful Al and I are. It is like a dream to come across something that is so helpful to our family. Matthew has been through a lot of therapies and this one seems perfect for him.

Each time we go to the Centre we meet people from all over the country and the world - other parts of Ontario, Alberta, the United States, Mexico and England. When we all get together as parents and share our experiences and tips, it is so wonderful. We all understand each other because we have been there too. It is very special and a great source of comfort.  So many great things have come out of the Listening Centre and we continue to see progress. Matthew loves to reveal all these new little things about himself to us. At least once a day our jaws are dropping and we find ourselves saying, “What did he just do?” He’s been such a mystery for so long but now he’s letting us in and it’s so beautiful. He has come so far – so far it is hard to believe that we’re even talking about the same boy. For us it is nothing short of a miracle.