New early learning facility open in Adelaide for children with autism
South Australian children with Autism Spectrum Disorders will benefit from specialist care and attention following the opening of an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in Prospect, Adelaide.
Six specialist staff, including a childhood education teacher, psychologist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist, will work alongside five trained childcare workers to provide the best possible learning environment for children aged up to six years old with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The Australian Government will provide $3.2 million to operate the specialist centre from Anglicare South Australia’s Daphne Street Childcare and Specialist Learning Centre.
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said it was the first of six autism specific centres to open as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to deliver up to 260 Early Learning and Care Centres nationally.
The six centres are part of the Rudd Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package.
“One of the challenges many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders face is the feeling of being unsupported. This creates unnecessary stress for parents and their children who are already coping with the challenges of the disorder,” Ms Macklin said.
“This centre will operate as a crucial support and service hub for Adelaide families. It will offer a welcoming and encouraging environment where children can learn and interact with others, and parents can receive much-needed support.”
Anglicare South Australia, in partnership with the Autism Association of South Australia and Flinders University, has refurbished and equipped Anglicare South Australia’s existing child care centre in Prospect to accommodate the centre.
Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, Kate Ellis, said the centre was crucial to the development of South Australian children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“The period from birth to six years is considered the most rapid period of development for a child, after prenatal development,” Ms Ellis said.
“We know these early years are particularly critical for children with autism spectrum disorders.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said the centre’s research component would assist in the development of a deeper understanding of autism spectrum disorders.
“One of the truly great elements of this centre is that it combines specialist care and support with research,” Mr Shorten said.
“We don’t have enough specialists or generalists who understand autism.
“This centre will go a long way to building that knowledge base.”
Autism specific centres will also be opening in Sydney, Brisbane, North West Tasmania, Melbourne and Perth.