Leading the way

Leading the way

Parent Candice Arends with her son Xavier at the Autism Awareness Week morning tea. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Gosnells Primary School celebrated Autism Awareness Week with a morning tea to raise community recognition of the needs and accomplishments of individuals with autism.

Gosnells Primary School program coordinator Alison Wade said she leads a team of educators in the Specialist Learning Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the school.

“The program is for 22 students with autism who did not have competencies at the point of enrolment to participate successfully in full time mainstream classrooms,” she said.

“The goal of the program is to meet the individual needs of the students from kindergarten to year six by providing programs to assist the students to achieve positive academic, behavioural, social and emotional outcomes to enhance the skills required for primary education and transition to full time mainstream enrolment.”

Ms Wade said a common misconception about individuals with autism was their preference to be alone and not want to have friends.

“Most individuals with autism do want to have friends,” she said.

“However, they may have difficulty with social skills particularly initiating and maintaining interactions with others.

“They may also have difficulties understanding the intentions and emotions of others and how to respond to these in an expected way. “

A guest speaker treated parents to a presentation from the School of Educational Needs: Disability and Autism Education Service Sonya Clyne.

Ms Clyne spoke about anxiety and autism, specifically about the characteristics of anxiety in autism, the key sources of anxiety in the classroom and strategies, which can be used to support students and reduce anxiety in the classroom.