Child Focus Drives Partnership

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Child focus drives partnership

Lincoln Bertelli for South Western Times June 30, 2016

A PARTNERSHIP between Kingston Primary School and the Autism Association of WA that began this year has been described as mutually beneficial. 

An autism early intervention program has operated from the school’s early learning centre two days per week since opening in February and caters for about 25 children. 

Kingston Principal Alan Kidd said it made sense for such a service to be based at a school because they were both focused on children. 

“It is a natural progression of the model of wraparound services,” he said. 

“It provides services for kids in areas where there are some.” 

Autism Association senior case manager Shana Sylvester previously worked for several years at a similar centre in Perth and believed Kingston’s purpose-built facility made the transition easier. 

“We were lucky enough to come into a centre that was so well established that we could just hit the ground running,” she said. 

“We knew what we needed to replicate. Alan has staff with a rich base of knowledge and our staff have a rich base of knowledge about autism.” 

Ms Sylvester said the centre which caters for children until their ninth birthday, aimed to teach social skills that would help children integrate into main· stream schools. 

Parent support groups also exist and involve families of children aged up to 16 who suspect their child has autism.

Three therapists and three therapy assistants work at the centre, which Ms Sylvester said allowed for a high staff-to-child ratio. 

There are plans to expand into Wednesday mornings from next term and further expansion could also take place depending on demand.

Ms Sylvester said Greater Bun· bury had other service providers in the autism sector. 

Autism Association of WA business operations manager Paul Baird described the Kingston centre as their “first foray into true regional areas”, having never had a permanent presence and previously only ran seminars. 

Education Department South West regional executive director Neil Milligan last year described the plan as “terrific” and said it would add to the “continuum of services” available in the region.

[Image] Autism Association of WA senior case manager Shana Sylvester plays with Rhys Headley, 6, at the Kingston Early Learning Centre. Picture: Jon Gellweiler

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