FAMILIES with young children struggling with autism will have better access to much-needed support when the AEIOU Foundation launches its first Regional Autism Program in Emerald on Monday.
“Our aim is to provide an early intervention and learning program for children aged two-and-a-half to five who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and live outside major metropolitan areas,” said Regional Autism manager Dr Laurie Sperry.
Childcare professionals, parents and the general public are invited to a free general information evening from 6.30pm until 8pm on Monday, August 9, at Emerald ABC Good Start childcare centre, 77 Esmond Street.
Dr Sperry and AEIOU director of education Diane Heaney will speak at the event, covering topics ranging from, ‘What is Autism?’, to the benefits of inclusion for children with or without autism.
“I’ll spend some time dispelling some of the myths surrounding ASDs,” said Dr Sperry.
“There will also be a question and answer session for parents to get expert advice on their individual queries.”
Following the launch, Dr Sperry and Mrs Heaney will run a week-long training program to equip ABC Emerald staff and family members with the skills and knowledge they need to work more effectively with children with ASD.
“The education of children with autism is a shared responsibility,” said Dr Sperry.
“There should be a partnership between parents, children and direct learning services.
“The progress children make is faster when there is a partnership between school and home.”
Dr Sperry said while the practical morning sessions were closed to the public, anyone interested would be welcome to attend afternoon lectures.
“I’ll be going over topics including structured teaching, prompting and the principle of reinforcement, social skills, functional behaviour assessment and positive intervention behaviour support plans.”
Dr Sperry said the week of training marked the beginning of a close working relationship between ABC Emerald and the AEIOU Foundation.
“Our final day of training will be developing an action plan for the trainers, and I will return after two weeks to identify future actions,” she said.
“Following that, we will be making regular visits to the centre, and there will be regular contact through the week between ABC Emerald and the AEIOU centre on the Sunshine Coast.”
Dr Sperry said she hoped the not-for-profit program, sponsored by Xstrata Coal, would provide rural and remote families dealing with autism in the Central Highlands with the same access to support services as families in more urban areas.
Registration is required for the launch and afternoon lectures.
For further information, or to register, contact ABC Centre director Jodie Cassidy on 4982 3408 or 4982 3460.
“The progress children make
is faster when there is a partnership between school
Regional Autism manager Dr Laurie Sperry
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