Exceptional Magazine : 2011 Exceptional Magazine
AEIOU Foundation / Social entrepreneur Exceptional 2011 Dr James Morton founded the largest provider of best practice early intervention care for autistic children in Australia. By 2012, AEIOU Foundation will be providing full-time specialist care to 50% of children with autism in Queensland. Meet the 2010 Entrepreneur Of The Ye a r Social entrepreneur. When Morton's second child, Andrew, was diagnosed with autism, Morton and his wife, Louise, wanted to fnd a way for Andrew to attend a mainstream school. Eventually, the couple found an excellent early intervention pilot program for autistic preschoolers. However, in 2003, the program closed and, unable to fnd another service of its kind anywhere in Queensland, they decided to start their own. Today, AEIOU Foundation (AEIOU) is Australia's largest provider of early intervention care to autistic children. The full-time program is designed to give these children the skills to successfully complete the rest of their education in mainstream schools. Each centre is staffed with full-time specialist early childhood teachers, speech pathologists and occupational therapists. Astonishingly, 70% of children from AEIOU centres transition successfully to mainstream schools, with the majority requiring little or no additional support. Determined to make AEIOU available to all autistic children, including those from low income families, Morton developed the "10-40-600" fundraising strategy. Currently, there is a $10,000 funding gap for the $40,000 it takes to place a child at an AEIOU centre for 12 months. Morton sought individual and corporate donations to close the gap. He argued that by assisting these children to communicate, engage with others and become integrated into their community, the contribution provides an average lifetime cost saving of $600,000 per year for each year the child participates in an AEIOU program. Convinced by his argument, 40 sponsors signed in the frst year. The Entrepreneur Of The Ye a r National judging panel commended Morton for making an enormous impact, for his entrepreneurial approach, for creating something extraordinary that is self- sustaining and nationally scalable, for looking at accepted norms through a different lens and for not taking "no" for an answer. "70% of our children get into mainstream schools when the baseline is 10%--15%. That changes the life of the child and the life of their family." Dr James Morton, AEIOU Foundation The early bird Through a strategic relationship with Goodstart and the Queensland Government, AEIOU has recently opened its ninth centre. By mid-2011 it will have completed a state-wide network of 13 centres 12 months ahead of schedule, enrolling more than 200 children in full time placements. In the next fve years, Morton plans to support children with autism from diagnosis, through childcare and school, and ultimately into the workforce.
2012 Exceptional Magazine