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

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 Ultimo 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 Ultimo 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 Ultimo Autism Specific Program

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Ground Floor Building Z Mary Ann Street Ultimo NSW 2007

Operating hours
8.00am - 6.00pm

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4-5 years
Important information
Meet the Director - Louise Casey
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I have worked in Early Childhood Education and Care for over 30 years.  Initially this included work as an Early Childhood Teacher in private, community and government-based centres, before I started work with SDN in 1997. Beginning as an Early Childhood Teacher, I have been Centre Director at SDN Marrickville, SDN Petersham, SDN Redfern, SDN Glebe and I joined SDN Ultimo in April 2020. 

SDN prides itself as a ‘Community of Learners’ and I feel this ethos is fully realised at SDN Ultimo. Our centre is essentially ‘a school within a school’. Not only is the centre within the TAFE grounds, but our team are committed lifelong learners, and each day we place value in learning alongside the children.

I believe work in early childhood is an amazing privilege. Families place so much trust in us, and we can make a difference in children’s lives as we support them to learn and develop. The more I learn about the importance of the early years and children’s brain development, the more I am reminded about the significance of being involved in the education for our youngest citizens.   

I have always been passionate about the inclusion of children, and at SDN Ultimo I am very proud to lead the Autism Specific Program. The journey to supporting this program has provided new possibilities for learning both personally and professionally, and I am delighted to bring my many decades of experience to leading this innovative program.

Preschool Educational program
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The SDN Ultimo 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 Ultimo 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 Ultimo use the same outdoor space as other children at SDN Ultimo. Routines are scheduled to allow children in the autism specific preschool exclusive access to the space at certain times of the day.

SDN Ultimo'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 Ultimo'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 Ultimo area are the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

SDN Ultimo has been operating within the Ultimo TAFE grounds since 2002 after a successful tender in 2001 to manage two TAFE child care centres at the Ultimo and Petersham campuses.

In 2010 SDN Ultimo was proud to be one of 20 centres across Australia to participate in the first trial to test the workability of the new National Quality Standards.

Since its beginnings, SDN Ultimo has undergone many changes and has always reflected a strong connection with the families in this vibrant and diverse educational community.

Read more about SDN Ultimo's history here.

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Our daily fee is $220 per day, including meals. (There will be no increase in July 2022).

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 Ultimo Autism Specific Program can help your child?

Call us today on 1300 831 445

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