Chil­dren’s autism ser­vices ex­pand

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Ce­cilia Allen

Autism WA has ex­panded its pro­gram in East Waikiki to keep up with an in­flux of reg­is­tra­tions.

Op­er­at­ing out of the East Waikiki Child and Par­ent Cen­tre fa­cil­ity, Autism WA was run­ning one class on Fri­day morn­ings but is now run­ning ad­di­tional classes on Thurs­day af­ter­noons.

Autism WA early in­ter­ven­tion team leader Shana Bargiev said there were 17 chil­dren en­rolled in the First Steps for Autism pro­gram, which is run on Fri­day, but in­takes had been “rolling in” since open­ing in July.

The First Steps for Autism pro­gram is de­signed for chil­dren aged up to eight years of age.

Autism WA senior speech pathol­o­gist Melissa Galipo said chil­dren were grouped based on skill level rather than age. “It al­lows us to tar­get goals more specif­i­cally,” she said.

“We might have a group of chil­dren who use com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices, so we can fo­cus more closely on that.

“Whereas in one of the groups we might tar­get so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and skill-build­ing.”

Mrs Bargiev said a school-aged so­cial skills pro­gram had also been added to the pro­gram on Thurs­day.

“Autism WA has al­ways de­liv­ered school-age ser­vices but it meant fam­i­lies were trav­el­ling to our base in Fre­man­tle,” she said.

Mrs Bargiev said the schoolaged pro­gram tar­geted autis­tic chil­dren who were out­side of the early in­ter­ven­tion age range.

“It’s for chil­dren who are in Year 2 or 3 and even up to Year 10,” she said. “We’re also look­ing into sites where we can run teenage groups and tran­si­tion into high school groups.

“I re­ally feel with the ex­pan­sion in the area that there are go­ing to be more ser­vices for in­di­vid­u­als in the area, not just for school-aged chil­dren but go­ing right into adult­hood and em­ploy­ment.

“This is re­ally just the be­gin­ning of the ser­vices we’re go­ing to pro­vide.”

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