SDN's purpose-designed transition to school preschool program for children with autism is located within our long day care centre, SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo.

Building on the expertise of our successful SDN Beranga Autism-Specific Preschool, this program provides early childhood education for up to eight children daily and offers early childhood intervention services and children's therapies.

The program delivers an autism specific approach focused on that important year before school and the transition from preschool. Our staff design and deliver a highly collaborative and play-based program.

Each child and family is supported with an individual approach. Our team works with you to identify your child's strengths and interests, and develop a plan to help you meet your goals.

The program is open to 8 children each day from Tuesday to Friday and takes place in a purposely equipped preschool room within SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo Children’s Education and Care Centre. Children in the program have access to qualified staff and the program will operate with one staff member for every four children, compared with the usual preschool ratio of one staff member for every ten children. The children will be fully included as part of the SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo community.

At SDN we pride ourselves on our inclusive environments. Children with autism are welcomed across all of our centres and many of our staff are specially trained in understanding autism.

While you can't use your child's NDIS package to pay for preschool, you will be able to-access additional therapy with our therapists who will be available onsite and pay for it through your child's NDIS package. Our therapists will work hand-in-hand with you and your child's educators to ensure that their therapy takes place wherever they live and play.

If your child does not yet have an NDIS package, our family resource worker can help you to navigate the NDIS application and planning process.

We also offer scholarships to further support you with fees if you have a health card or your child identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. You will still need to pay a small amount each day, but please speak with us to see if you meet the criteria for a scholarship.

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SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo Autism Specific Program

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104 Wellington St, Waterloo NSW 2017

Operating hours
8.00am - 6.00pm

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3-4 years
4-5 years
Important information
Meet the Director - Stephanie Riemer
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“Building trusting relationships for a child is vital for them to thrive and learn about themselves and the world around them.” 

My qualifications and experience 

I have been with SDN Children’s Services for over a decade in various roles. I started as a Diploma trained educator in the Preschool room, and progressed into roles including Room Leader, Early Childhood Teacher and now onto a leadership role as Centre Director.  

What I'm most passionate about in my role 

I am passionate about the early years of a child’s life. I believe the first five years of a child are fundamentally important, as during this time the brain develops more than at any other time in a human’s life.  

Therefore, building trusting relationships with a child is vital for them to thrive and learn about themselves and the world around them.

What I love about working with SDN 
Being a part of the SDN community means being part of something bigger and having the support of a village. 

SDN Lois Barker is not just another early learning centre, it is like a home. From the first moment I stepped through the doors I had this feeling of home, warmth and belonging. Situated in the heart of Waterloo, SDN Lois Barker is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

We are part of a rich community, which is reflected in the children, families, and staff. When you become part of the SDN Lois Barker family you will see this is an amazing place to play, learn and grow together.

A little bit more about me 

While being the director of SDN Lois Barker is a big part of me, outside of work I love spending time with my family, as well as travel, great food and just relaxing in front of the TV.

Preschool Educational Program
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The SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo Autism Specific Program is a structured early learning program delivering effective intervention services for children with autism. It mirrors the practice at our SDN Beranga Autism Specific Preschool, which provides:

  • A high quality early childhood education and care practice
  • Evidence based early childhood intervention strategies
  • A comprehensive autism-specific approach

The approach and content of the program is tailored to each individual child and we work in partnership with the child’s family to set goals. We focus on autism specific developmental needs such as attention, compliance, imitation, language, social skills and many other areas to prepare children for their transition to school. Our professional staff with specific qualifications in educating and caring for children with autism, create a highly supportive teaching environment with predictability and route to promote generalisation of new skills.

Our staff at SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo Autism Preschool program are fully aware that children with autism often have a range of sensory sensitivities. You can be assured that any and all sensitivities will be fully catered for. Teaching staff will also be able to help your child express themselves and regulate their emotions.

Outdoor space
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Children attending the autism-specific program at SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo use the same outdoor space as other children at SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo. Routines are scheduled to allow children in the autism specific preschool exclusive access to the space at certain times of the day.

SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo's play spaces are designed to be responsive to the learning styles of children with autism. We designed it to highlight function, texture, tones and levels, and to promote creative and social play.

SDN Lois Barker Waterloo's outdoor spaces provide opportunities for children to enjoy themselves and have adventures. They're safe environments for children to run, jump and yell, make mud cakes, and use their energy.

Outdoor spaces provide more than physical benefits. Even though you may think that children only play outside to have fun, they're also improving their thinking, social, and emotional skills. When they're playing outside, they're inventing games, learning about the world at their own pace, and figuring out social customs like turn-talking.

Centre history
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The traditional owners of the Waterloo area are the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

SDN Lois Barker opened for operation on 24 October 1983 in a Housing Commission complex at Wellington Street, Waterloo. SDN was invited by the Sydney City Council to manage the long day care centre, named after an influential early childhood teacher who taught in Sydney for over 35 years. An official opening celebration on 5 April 1984 included the Lord Mayor of Sydney and Lois Barker herself.

SDN Lois Barker quickly became part of the SDN family and way of working. The centre’s first director and nurse-in-charge came from SDN Paddington. From the very beginning, the centre reflected the local community by hosting an end-of-year celebration with international food, and recognising the need for outdoor activities for children who lived in high-rise flats.

Since its beginnings, SDN Lois Barker has undergone many changes, always maintaining and reflecting a strong connection with the families of this vibrant and diverse community.

Read more about SDN Lois Barker's history here.

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Our daily fee is $230 per day, including meals.

Children can enrol between two to four days per week. We do not offer a one day per week option for this service.

Children are eligible to start when they turn 3 years and 9 months old.

You may receive maximum child care subsidy if you have one child in care (at any centre). Out of pocket cost will be $115 a day.

Please note that this fee does not include therapist support.

Your child will need to meet immunisation requirements and you will need to meet residency requirements to be eligible to receive the CCS.

If you have a Health Care Card or your child identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you may qualify for one of our donor-funded scholarships, which will cover more of your fees. You will still need to pay a small amount each day. Please speak with us for more information.

If you’ve read this information and you’re still unsure about what you’ll pay, please call us or book a centre tour. We’re happy to answer your questions.

What to bring
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  • We recommend a small to medium sized back pack so that all belongings remain together.
  • A sun hat for outdoor play
  • We recommend your child wear elasticised pull on pants to encourage easy movement and independence.
  • Practical shoes to allow running and climbing
  • 2 x change of clothes in case of weather changes or wet clothing
  • Spare underwear
  • Jacket
  • Drink bottle
  • Blanket

Nutritious meals will be provided by our in-house cook and we will cater to children’s dietary requirements and any allergies.

Early education and child care

What we offer

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Nutrition and Mealtimes

We provide children with a variety of healthy foods, and cater for children with allergies and intolerances.

Interested in how SDN Lois Barker, Waterloo Autism Specific Program can help your child?

Call us today on 1300 831 445

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