THE treatment of children with autism by the Midland branch of the Autism Association of Western Australia entered a new era with the opening of the association’s Therapy and Clinical Services Department on Tuesday.
The Midland branch expanded its operation due to increasing demand for the treatment of school aged children, teens and adults with autism.
The association’s Sayer St expansion, mainly funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will aid families of older children and young adults who previously had to access these services through the association’s Early Intervention Centre in Midland.
The Early Intervention Centre assists approximately 110 families with children up to the age of seven, however over 200 families with school-aged or older children access these autistic therapeutic services in the Midland area alone.
Bianca Ravi, a team leader at the association’s Midland office said the Therapy and Clinical Services Department will have an emphasis on targeting social skills and emotional regulation, key areas in the development of children with autism.
“The new department will allow these children to practice their skills in a safe environment,” she said.
“As a result of these sessions we’ve had parents tell us they’ve had children who have been invited to play-dates and parties, whereas previously these kids hadn’t been invited to anything.”
The Early Intervention Centre which has been running for three years in Midland is also critical to the organisation’s ability to help parents in the area and alleviate and modify the behavior of affected children.
South Guildford parents Natalie and Michael Pilkington have three autistic children – 11-year-old William, nine-year-old Oliver and seven-year-old Edward – who have benefitted enormously from these services being made available locally.
“Previously logistically and emotionally it was very difficult having to drive to Jolimont initially and then later to Shenton Park as well with William and the two little ones, several times a week in peak hour traffic,” Mrs Pilkington said.
“Oliver had to go to Shenton Park as there were no early invention services available in our area prior to the Autism Association opening up their Midland operation.
“Just being able to access the ranges of these services locally has made a huge difference to our lives.
“Early intervention is just so important, it makes a huge difference as to how kids with autism are able to self-regulate and recognize when they’re becoming angry and losing control.
“I can see the difference in William as some of these services, socials skills among others weren’t always available to us and it’s only now that that he has regular access to school aged assistance that he’s learning to communicate better when he’s starting to feel angry or out of control.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the association and their staff and there are families from Ellenbrook, the Hills and from all over our area whose lives have been made so much easier through being able to access this help locally.”
Staff at the Early Intervention Centre conduct weekly three-hour sessions during which children receive group therapy and one-on-one therapy.
There is also an action circuit designed to help develop the sequencing and motor skills of these children.
Midland Early Intervention Centre is at 10 Mellar Ct, Midland while the new Therapy and Clinical Services Department is located at 9 Sayer St Midland, with both departments contactable on 6380 5900.
By Andrew Carter