Page 3294 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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The directorate works in collaboration with staff from Therapy ACT to provide evidence-based professional learning for staff in these programs. Through the positive partnerships program to support students with autism, the directorate works with Therapy ACT and the Catholic Education Office to provide parent and carer workshops each year.

Through these programs, the government demonstrates its strong commitment to ensuring that children with autism are given every opportunity early in life to access and participate in an individualised program of learning to meet their needs.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (4.53): Ensuring there is a wide range of options available to parents of autistic children is an issue close at heart to all members of the Canberra Liberals, and I thank Ms Lawder for raising the importance of early intervention programs for children with autism in the Assembly today.

Recently Mr Doszpot and I had the privilege of visiting the AEIOU Foundation in Brisbane. AEIOU currently operate nine early intervention centres across Queensland. Their aim is to be the leading provider of quality early intervention learning for children with autism and to ensure that every child is provided with the maximum opportunity to reach their potential.

The AEIOU centre that I visited is located within the Griffith University campus. The co-location of the centre with the university offers benefits to both the foundation and the university itself. The university is able to provide an environment where students and academics are able to observe the different teaching methods used in the classroom without disrupting the day-to-day operation of the centre. AEIOU gains benefits from the research that is carried out on the university campus in the hope of better understanding autism and its causes and how best to manage it.

A relationship like this in the ACT would not only offer increased options to parents of autistic children who live in and around the ACT but would also increase the opportunity of the ACT’s tertiary institutions in the fields of research and development.

It has been noted in much of the research that surrounds early intervention for children with autism that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A wide variety of intervention models are available, each with varying amounts of research and evidence to support the outcomes that are claimed to be able to be achieved. However, there is much consensus that there are some key elements to shaping a successful intervention program: an autism-specific curriculum focusing on attention, compliance, imitation, language and social skills; highly supportive teaching environments which deal with the need for predictability and routine and which have the capacity to support challenging behaviours, obsessions and rituals; support for children as they transition in and out of the program as well as support for the family members; and a partnership with the professionals involved in treatments. It is on these principles that the AEIOU Foundation delivers its program with great success.

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