Rotary supports service

THE Rotary Club of Cooma is supporting a vital community service, focusing its recent fundraising efforts for the Monaro Early Intervention Service (MEIS).

MEIS provides support services for children with a disability or developmental delays from birth to school aged.

There is currently a clientele of 60 children, with close to 20 children on the waiting list.

Cooma's Rotary Club president Margaret Hassall said MEIS provided important services in the community and was something the club wanted to support.

"I regard it as an investment in the future of the area," she said.

The great work of MEIS in helping local families with children who have a developmental delay was highlighted at a recent meeting of Rotary Cheryl Pirie spoke about her journey of raising her a son with Autism.

The talk coincided with World Autism Awareness Day.

"I know it touched a lot of people in the club. It was really good for rest of the club members to experience it," Mrs Hassall said.

Mrs Pirie's son Ronan was diagnosed with Autism in 2008 when he was five-years-old.

She spoke highly of the support and services provided by MEIS in understanding Autism and how to live with it.

"This place was everything to us when Ronan was in pre-school," she said.

"He now has the opportunity to learn to the best of his abilities and be supported."

Some areas of difficulty for those with Autism may include social interaction, language skills, behavioural issues, intellectual impairment or delays, anxieties and physical delays.

Services provided by MEIS which include occupational therapy and speech pathology, help cope with these difficulties.

MEIS director Rhonda Howie said at MEIS services were coordinated around the needs of the child and they all worked together. She said they also aimed to empower parents for when children transitioned in school.

Mrs Pirie said her family was extremely grateful for the support it had received through MEIS.

"That's the beauty of MEIS, they bring it [all the services] all together," Mrs Pirie said.

"I have to be Ronan's advocate now. Early on MEIS gave me knowledge and support to do that."

MEIS is a non-government organisation, and as such fundraising was vital, Mrs Howie said.

"It's absolutely the backbone to us at the moment," she said.

"We are so grateful for the level of support we receive from the local community.

"One of the other great things about MEIS is that it is non-government, so it is owned by the community."

Through donations, MEIS was able to purchase the house next door to its current location on Hill Street in late 2012. Renovations are expected to be completed within the next couple of months.

It will allow MEIS to expand its services.

The new building will have room for an Occupational therapist, a special sensory room, speech pathology and psychologist.

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