Autistic children to tell a story

HELPING HAND: Julie and Gary Currie, with their songs Thomas, six, and Dylan, four, are campaigning for greater support for families dealing with autism.
HELPING HAND: Julie and Gary Currie, with their songs Thomas, six, and Dylan, four, are campaigning for greater support for families dealing with autism. Krystal Hansen

NO parent can predict their children's needs at every moment of the day, but imagine if your six-year-old couldn't even communicate them to you.

This is a reality faced by many parents in the Central Highlands whose children suffer from autism, and with little support available it can feel daunting.

Emerald couple Julie and Gary Currie are determined to give families and children affected by autism all the help they can.

After some clever thinking and negotiating the couple has secured specialists from the Pyramid Educational Consultants of Australia to come to Emerald for almost two days of appointments.

“Autism Queensland convinced them (PECS) to come to Rockhampton but a lot of the families from Emerald because of work and family commitments couldn't go,” she said.

“So I rang and asked them what would it take to come to Emerald?”

Julie and Gary organised transport and accommodation for the specialists, and put the word out to local families.

They understand the pressures and challenges of families with autistic children on the Highlands as their six-year-old son Thomas suffers the disorder.

“It's just nice to have access to more resources to help him along with his development because he still can't put together a complete sentence all the time,” said Gary.

“There are times he can sit down and blurt out a sentence and you'll think ‘where did that come from' and ‘why can't you do that all the time'?

“And for the rest of the day you can see him sitting there thinking about what he is trying to say to you.

“He repeats himself a lot while he's trying to think of what he says.”

PECS uses a picture-based education tool for the children which can aid their speech development and help them cope with new routines.

“It's for children who have trouble putting a story together, they can talk but they can't tell a story,” explained Julie.

“Basically organising the structure of the sentence.”

PECS is a registered care provider with Autism Australia meaning some families can apply for funding to cover the visits, but those without funding can still make an appointment.

PECS will be visiting Emerald all day on Monday, April 12, and the morning of Tuesday, April 13.

To make an appointment email Julie at

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