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Autism early intervention can work

When a child is diagnosed with autism, his or her future is uncertain.

While the media often focuses on more fashionable treatments for autism, such as special diets and supplements, we should have no illusions about the importance of early intervention. It’s about grabbing a child’s attention, and slowly and painstakingly teaching them skills and communication and how to re-engage with the world. It’s not ‘miracle treatment’; it’s terribly labour-intensive, but it works better than anything else we currently have at our disposal.

When a child is diagnosed with autism, his or her future is uncertain. Given the right opportunities, some children will make awe-inspiring progress whereas others, even with the best intervention, will remain profoundly disabled. This is largely beyond our control. But if we are to live in a fair society, every Australian child should have equal opportunity for success and that means being offered equal access to quality early intervention. The Australian Government has established six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres.

The Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres provide early learning programs and specific support for children aged zero to six years with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a long day care setting. They also provide parents with support in the care of their children and give them the opportunity to participate more fully in the community. Through their affiliations with universities or hospitals, the centres have a research and workforce training component which will help achieve a better understanding of ASD and increase workforce capacity.

An Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre has been established in each of the following locations:

  • South Western Sydney
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • North West Tasmania
  • Melbourne, and
  • Perth.

The service providers of the six centres are:

Melbourne – The La Trobe University Margot Prior Wing Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre

La Trobe University in partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital extended the existing state-of-the-art La Trobe University Community Children’s Centre to accommodate an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre. For information about enrolment, please contact the centre by email children@latrobe.edu.au(link sends e-mail) or phone 03 9479 2122.

Adelaide – The Daphne Street Child Care and Specialist Early Learning Centre

Anglicare SA Inc, in partnership with the Autism Association of South Australia, has refurbished Anglicare’s existing child care centre in Prospect, Adelaide to accommodate an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre. For information about enrolement, please contact the centre by email daphneadmin@anglicaresa.com.au(link sends e-mail) or phone 08 8269 8688.

South Western Sydney – The KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre

KU Children’s Services, in partnership with the Sydney South West Area Health Service and the University of New South Wales, established an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre on the same site as KU Children’s Services’ existing child care centre at Woodward Park, Liverpool. For information about enrolment, please contact the centre by email ku.marciaburgessautism@ku.com.au(link sends e-mail) or phone 02 9612 9400.

Brisbane – The Queensland Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre – AEIOU Foundation for children with autism

AEIOU Foundation for children with autism, in partnership with Griffith University, has established an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus. For information about enrolment, please contact the centre by email nathan@aeiou.org.au(link sends e-mail) or phone (07) 3320 7900.

Perth – First Steps Midland Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre

The Autism Association of Western Australia (AAWA), in partnership with the Curtin University of Technology, has established an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in central Midland, 10 Mellar Court, Midland WA 6056.  For information about enrolment, please contact the centre by email daycare@autism.org.au (link sends e-mail) or phone (08) 6380 5504.

Tasmania – The North West Tasmania Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre

The St Giles Society operates the North West Tasmania Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre’s main campus in a purpose built centre above the mainstream child care centre, Alexander Beetle House.The centre is also providing satellite services across the North West region of Tasmania. It has been operational since June 2010. For information about enrolment, please contact the centre by email aselcc@stgiles.org.au(link sends e-mail) or phone (03) 6454 1222.


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