ANNIE MONTAGUE: We were told they should be institutionalised. MARK MONTAGUE: But we’ve been experiencing miracles. COMM: In Kent, a detached house stands surrounded by high fences and padlocks. COMM: But the Montague family aren’t trying to keep people out, they’re trying to protect
their twin boys Samuel and Jacob. ANNIE MONTAGUE: The boys were diagnosed with autism when they were two and a quarter. It
was quite evident there was something not quite right and with them. You’d come home
from work and there is no response. Mark would just come in, “Hello, boys” and they would
just ignore him. I got nothing back from them at all, didn’t feel they loved us, did we?
MARK MONTAGUE: No, no. They didn’t have any emotional interaction, no expressions.
ANNIE MONTAGUE: So we just cared for them, loved them and fed them and that was our life. COMM: As the boys grew older, their behaviour became more destructive. MARK MONTAGUE: They wrecked everything and soiled everywhere, threw up everywhere, threw
food, smeared food. Everything that could be broken and twisted and snapped was done.
As our house is being utterly trashed every day of the week and you could have nothing. ANNIE MONTAGUE: Because of the boys’ behaviour,
we couldn’t have any furniture. Everything had to be screwed down.
MARK MONTAGUE: Screwed down and up high, just trash the flat, just pull it apart.
ANNIE MONTAGUE: Both boys have escaped from here probably five or six times between them.
We have had to have the police involved, helicopters, police dogs.
MARK MONTAGUE: And that’s why we needed such a high fence all round, because they
are just escape artists. COMM: Despite trying to find help, they were told time and time again that their sons’
behaviour would never improve. ANN SCOTT: The first time I ever came into the family and met them, I remember walking
in and my first sight was seeing Annie, she was sobbing her heart out and it was a social
worker telling her to put her boys into an institution.
MARK MONTAGUE: Every professional advised us, but most of all for them. They…
ANNIE MONTAGUE: Put them into… MARK MONTAGUE: Into residential. So it wasn’t
just experts, it was also friends and family. ANNIE MONTAGUE: And we went and had a look
to residential schools and you can’t get any lower than that as parents to go and find
an alternative place for your children to live.
MARK MONTAGUE: We talked and talked and talked and we both just couldn’t do it. We just
could not give them up. COMM: Determined to keep their family together, Annie and Mark began looking into treatments
for their sons’ autism. COMM: They came across a pioneering treatment called The Son-Rise Programme.
Unlike other methods, it was designed by parents of a severely autistic child. ANNIE MONTAGUE: You were skeptical. MARK MONTAGUE: I was, to be honest. MARK MONTAGUE: But I went to along to support Annie. JACK MASON-GOODALL: The Son-Rise Programme is a relationship-based therapy. So, it’s
about an understanding that autism is primarily a social relational disorder. Autism is about
a person’s difficulty being able to connect and interact and form relationships with another
person. Our approach is getting down to the root cause of what is going on for that child.
MARK MONTAGUE: That was an absolute eye opener, because the people who were teaching it had
a direct involvement with autism. COMM: One of the main techniques of the programme is to stop trying to change the children’s
autistic behaviour and instead join in with them. Mark and Annie immediately saw results. MARK MONTAGUE: The autistic children are well known, you just, you just can’t get
eye contact. The first time you will never forget because I have never done it before
and I was at the table and I was just joining him spinning and suddenly he stops spinning
and just looked up, looked straight into my eyes and there was a look on his face as if
to say, “You know what I’m doing. You are with me”. It was a wonderful experience.
You never forget it. ANNIE MONTAGUE: And then, of course, you’re
now in their world and that over time kind of slightly changed the activity without them
knowing, they’re copying you. Gradually putting them into our world. MARK MONTAGUE: And things started to happen that experts said was impossible, would never
happen. But we have been experiencing miracles. JACK MASON-GOODALL: I’ve seen them change in a quite a profound way in terms of their
ability to follow instructions, the level of calmness that they have, their desire to
want to try to communicate. COMM: The Montagues were initially told their boys would never speak to them, but since
The Son-Rise Programme, they have started to communicate very slowly. ANNIE MONTAGUE: I was told the boys would see you, me, no different than say the postman.
I was just a person that would help them and feed them, don’t expect to get anything
back. But now, I can see they love their mom, I can’t deny it. They come up to me, they
cuddle, they kiss. MARK MONTAGUE: They interact. COMM: Now Annie and Mark are hoping to raise money to attend a further course in America,
which should help them see even more improvements. ANN SCOTT: I think any parent should aspire to be Annie and Mark. I couldn’t tell you
what they have gone through. They have never once given up on their boys. They’ve kept
their family together. ANNIE MONTAGUE: To any parents who find themselves where we were ten years ago, who’ve maybe
recently been given a diagnosis – don’t listen to all the doom and gloom.
MARK MONTAGUE: Every aspect of their life and ours too has been massively improved.
That’s not an exaggeration. We have got two little boys now who are loving, they interact,
they’re caring, they are part of the family. Every expert said that would never happen,
would be impossible. The future for Jacob and Samuel since The Son-Rise Programme is limitless.