Darren is learning through stories.
Since July 2011 Australian MD 201 Lions have been campaigning for increased funding for early intervention education and therapy for preschool children with autism spectrum disorders. Early intervention therapies are very costly but effective in improving the life outcomes of children with Autism [ASD].
Lions established a National Project in 2011 to help children with ASD and their families.
Lions are communicating with all levels of governments across Australia to increase early intervention preschool funding to a minimum of $30,000 each year per child, or, as required.
Lions are also seeking to assist local area groups that provide support for preschool children with ASD. Lions will see how the local ASD groups can be supported by local Lions Clubs.
Sylvanvale’s therapists use stories as an educational tool for children with autism.
From Simone McClenaughan of the Sylvanvale Foundation.
Darren is a kindergartener who is full of life, chatty and a pleasure to be around! A little over a year ago he came to Sylvanvale Private Therapy because he couldn’t sit still, had behavioural issues, only spoke three-word sentences and had no safety awareness, all signs associated with him having autism. After attending frequent sessions for the last five terms with Sylvanvale’s speech and occupational therapists, Darren is now calm and well regulated, listens and communicates exceedingly well.
Speech therapy has developed his communication, vocabulary, sentences, comprehension and social skills. Occupational therapy has worked on his sensory processing, motor planning, fine motor skills and extending attention and concentration.
“Darren is very bright and extremely enthusiastic to come to therapy,” says his speech pathologist, Michelle.
Michelle has found that social stories are one of the best ways to help Darren learn. A social story is a first-person narrative that puts the child in the centre of the story and uses lots of visuals to help teach them about certain topics. Previously, Darren wouldn’t think twice before rushing out onto a busy road, but now he has learnt this isn’t safe through a social story. “If I don’t hold hands I get a bump on my head,” he says.
Darren’s mother, Yolla, loves the use of social stories and often asks Michelle to develop one around a particular topic that will help Darren at home.
In preparation for school, Darren attended two occupational therapy sessions a week with Vicky, one of Sylvanvale’s occupational therapists. “The sessions gave him the bit of extra help he needed to achieve skills required for school such as concentration, so he could sit in a chair for extended periods, attending to and following instructions as well as pre-writing skills,” says Vicky. She focused a lot on sensory processing and building Darren’s independence in regulating his own energy levels throughout the day. “Darren is now enjoying school is developing lots of new skills on his own. I often meet him coming to and from school and he always has a smile on his face!”
Darren now has a strong interest in learning. In fact, Darren’s school teachers are amazed at his class participation, concentration and desire to learn. He even rushes to sit at the front of the class he likes school that much!
Therapy has also allowed Darren to become a more active family member. At dinner time, he now often asks everyone to “Please stop talking; I want to talk about Darren!”
If you’re interested to know more about Sylvanvale Private Therapy sessions, please contact Courtenay Karoubas, Therapy Coordinator on (02) 8536 0114.
The Sylvanvale Foundation which is located in Kirrawee, in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, has been helping our Lions MD 201 Project by providing articles about childhood autism spectrum disorders.
For information about the Lions ASD Project please ring Lion David Flynn on 02 9533 2347.