5 May 2022

New early intervention centre for children with autism holds first open days

| Evelyn Karatzas
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AEIOU Canberra children's early autism intervention centre

The AEIOU Canberra open days take place next Thursday and Friday. Photo: Paul Chapman, Mode Imagery.

The AEIOU Foundation for Children with Autism Canberra will hold the first open days of its recently launched early intervention centre next week.

The NDIS-approved centre provides intensive support for children with autism and extended child care hours.

AEIOU Canberra regional manager Enia Alberto said the open days would allow families and people in the community to come in and understand all the centre offers.

“The goal is to improve their [children with autism] quality of life and help upskill them so they can be fully engaged in the community and successful when they leave,” Enia said.

“We aim to provide children with the right help to be ready for the next educational centre.”

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Enia said the early intervention centre offers children aged two to six support from speech pathologists, occupational therapists and behavioural therapists.

“The children coming to the centre each have a level two or three diagnosis,” she said.

“I think the beauty of the program is that it’s very individualised and every child or every family has their own personalised goals, so we adjust the program to meet each child’s goals.

“It’s not just about learning the skills you need for school; it’s about learning those social skills, play skills and self-care skills, so we take a very holistic approach at the centre.”

Enia said a lot of the things many children take for granted – such as having playdates and going on holidays with their families – other children can struggle to enjoy, but the centre aimed to help these children become more confident.

“We see the children become happier with themselves and the families are also very happy,” she said.

“Some families may have specific feeding goals … we had children when they first started in July just eating biscuits, then they progressed to eating vegetables and fruit and eating more at home with their families.

“We also have children come in that were very aggressive and struggling. After help from the behavioural therapists, parents told us they saw a drastic decrease in aggression, so this child can now actually go to playgrounds, go to birthday parties and join group activities with us.

“It just depends on the goals from the family and what their child needs at that time.”

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Enia said the centre currently has three operating classrooms.

“Right now we have 30 children in the centre, but we will be opening up another one soon, as we have a capacity of 40 children,” she said.

The two open days will take place in two sessions next week, on Thursday 12 May and Friday 13 May, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Canberra AEIOU early intervention centre in Garran.

For more information, visit the AEIOU website.

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