Program helps Xavier break down barriers

Program helps Xavier break down barriers

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Gosnells mother Candice Arends with her son Xavier Astbury. Photograph - Richard Polden.

Candice Arends said witnessing her nine-year-old son going from a kindergarten education level to now keeping up with his peers at school as well within the general community has been amazing.

Ms Arends took part in a new State Government-funded education program that has changed the mindsets of several autistic students helping them in both the classroom and the wider community.

Ms Arends enrolled her son Xavier Astbury at Gosnells Primary School after finding out the school was a pioneer for the program that helped students on the autism spectrum.

Since entering the program Ms Arends said Xavier had grown with his confidence and his academic levels were improving each day.

“When he started, his education levels were at kindergarten level and now they are at age-appropriate levels or above,” she said.

“He actually wants to come to school now.

“He has more friends and the program has given him a good sense of community.”

Gosnells Primary School program coordinator Alison Wade said her role has been to help teachers roll out a curriculum, which was inclusive, empowering and built empathy.

“We aim to integrate the students into the mainstream school here through their acceptance and inclusion in the playground and using strategies not to disrupt learning in the classroom,” she said.

“It has been wonderful to see teachers embrace this program and also learn from it as they are also realising the enormous potential of students who are on the autism spectrum.”

Member for Thornlie Chris Tallentire said the program was being rolled out to other schools in the metropolitan area and as far south as Bunbury.

“This program is changing the lives of students, parents, schools and communities,” he said.

The program started at Gosnells Primary School last year and currently has 24 students from kindergarten to year six.