Choosing a child care centre for your child with autism

Choosing a child care centre is always going to be complex mix of your needs, convenience and the centre’s approach to education and care. But if your child has autism or developmental delay, the decision can be even more complex.

Christine Zuvela, who heads SDN Beranga, a specialist preschool for children with autism, provides some tips on choosing a centre.

  1. Make a list of what you are looking for from your ideal centre based on factors like the needs of your family, convenience to home or work and your child’s interests and strengths. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to change what you are looking for just because your child has a disability or developmental delay.
  2. When you visit each centre make sure you ask “how can you support and encourage my child to engage and participate in experiences provided to all children”. In response you should expect the centre’s representative to ask you more about your child and what they need to be supported. Even if the centre doesn’t have strategies at hand that will support your child’s disability, they should know where they can go to get help.
  3. You could also ask about the inclusive practices used at the centre. Some of the things to look for are the use of visuals to support communication and learning, the use of key word signing and the use of predictable routines.
  4. Understand that support and advice is available to every centre to help them to support your child. The support available will be flexible and will depend on the needs of your child. The government provides support because they understand that all children belong in mainstream services and that it is in mainstream settings that children will best learn the social and self-regulation skills they need to start school.

If you are near an SDN centre you should consider visiting. We’re here for all children and our aim is to ensure that all children have the same opportunities to access our centres. We offer a range of therapies that can come to where your child is.

Read about the importance of early childhood intervention, and how you can help the process, on the ECIA website.

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