Liberals promise an autism school

johnboy 22 September 2012 8

Zed Seselja and Steve Doszpot are pitching at the families of autistic children today:

ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja and ACT Shadow Minister for Disability Steve Doszpot announced today that if elected, a Canberra Liberals Government will build the ACT’s first ever school for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Mr Seselja said the school will help children with ASD reach their full potential.

“If elected, a Canberra Liberals Government will build a school for up to 40 children with ASD aged between two and a half and six years,” Mr Seselja said.

“It would provide a full-time intensive learning program with a very high staff-to-child ratio of 1:2, and would have a dedicated team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, child psychologists and early childhood teachers.

“This policy is modelled on existing Queensland schools for children with ASD, and would be a first for Canberra.

“The benefits of similar schools in Queensland are compelling, with 75 per cent of children who complete the program successfully transitioning into mainstream schools,” Mr Seselja concluded.

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8 Responses to Liberals promise an autism school
blimkybill blimkybill 8:37 pm 24 Sep 12

The idea is based on credible research which indicates that intensive (full time) intervention for a couple of years at the preschool age can make a big difference for some kids with autism, and help some make the jump to coping with mainstream school. Good early intervention, can in some cases really alter outcomes in a big way. It’s a positive idea which will be supported (I think) by the autism comunity. The Queensland schools they are basing it on are the aeiou centres – look up their website for more info.

milkman milkman 8:02 pm 24 Sep 12

johnboy said :

Well the idea of the school is to get them capable of handling mainstream schooling as soon as possible.

That’s got to be better than mainstreaming then unready?

Indeed. As a civilised society we have a duty of care to the disabled. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

housebound housebound 6:08 pm 24 Sep 12

It seems to have support from affected community groups:

I thought early intervention is pretty well accepted these days.

steveu steveu 4:56 pm 24 Sep 12

I can’t help thinking this may label ASD kids even further.

    johnboy johnboy 5:00 pm 24 Sep 12

    Well the idea of the school is to get them capable of handling mainstream schooling as soon as possible.

    That’s got to be better than mainstreaming then unready?

Flossie Flossie 2:41 pm 23 Sep 12

I take your points, I still wonder why they are referring to spectrum disorders if they mean full blown autism.

I wonder what they have planned for the kids once they go to mainstream school. Kids with severe ASD get about 7 hours of support every week under the current arrangements.

Starting intervention at the age of two is a great idea. (and proven to be effective globally) but what happens after age 6. These kids aren’t curable, and will have disruptions in their lives forever due to their quirky wiring. (my aspie son is a young adult now, and the hard work still isn’t over (but the support dried up long ago.)

pink little birdie pink little birdie 5:30 pm 22 Sep 12

They are taking about early intervention schools for students who have a high level of autism. Looking at the numbers of students it’s not going to be for asperger children but the children who need it most will get appropriate levels of therapies allowing them to join mainstream schools in kindergarten and year one
Flossie the age of the kids suggest parents will drive them to the schools just like daycare.

Flossie Flossie 1:46 pm 22 Sep 12

Resourcing for kids with ASD is abysmal in the ACT. Part of me thinks the concept of a specialist school is good.

But then I think about, where will this one school be? Some of these kids won’t do so well on public transport, and driving the kids with ASD to one school and the other kids to another school is a disaster, leading to more hassles for families who are doing it tough with their ASD kids.

And why do we need to segregate kids with ASD from other kids? Social skills are already an issue for these kids, isolating them will not help with developing skills vital to life long social interaction.

Many of the interventions demonstrated to help kids with ASD are, by their very nature, kid friendly. Often the other students in a class where a few of the kids have ASD and learning support, well they thrive as well.

Non-ASD kids who share their school with kids who are otherwise-abled learn a lot about difference not meaning less valuable.

Can’t we do something radical, like, ummm, provide adequate support in the school setting and let the kids be schooled with their peers?

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