Eight-year-old Savannah Alford is a resilient and athletic member of the Grandview family.
Savannah lives in Oshawa with her parents Adam and Jacqueline, and her older brother Matthew and younger brother Brayden. She was diagnosed with ASD at roughly 18 months by the neonatal developmental clinic she was attending after a difficult early year of life, including an emergency C-section at 28 weeks into her mother’s pregnancy.
“We were lost,” said Jacqueline, upon hearing her daughter was diagnosed with autism. “We had heard of autism but did not know much about it, so when we were picked up at Grandview, our lives changed. Denial turned to acceptance, confusion turned to education, and as much as Savannah has had to learn to cope in this confusing world, she has also taught us how to see things differently and that there is no such thing as the right way.”
The clinic referred Savannah to Grandview Children Centre’s Ajax location, and from there she was sent to the Oshawa location for Speech Language Pathology and Occupation Therapy. She was later diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD) at a sensory clinic in Whitby, and so began sensory training.
This sensory training has allowed her to take part in various sports, with hockey being her favourtite. She scored her first goal last season, and was featured in an RBC commercial with her favourite hockey player, Anthony Cirelli. Her most recent goal has been working towards riding a bicycle over the summer.
“We are proud of all Savannah’s milestones,” said Jacqueline when asked about her daughter’s achievements. “She has had to learn everything that usually comes naturally to children. From learning how to suck on a bottle for food to learning why ‘water falls from peoples eyes.’ Every milestone was a learning process for her. Despite the challenges she faces, she is still empathetic and caring to everyone.”