Autism service to move in

Emily SharpSound Telegraph
Rockingham Autism Services owners Heidi Quilty and Rich Harries have been helping families for the past five years.
Camera IconRockingham Autism Services owners Heidi Quilty and Rich Harries have been helping families for the past five years. Credit: SOUND TELEGRAPH, Emily Sharp

After reporting on a gap in services for people with autism in Baldivis last month, the Telegraph can reveal Autism WA is moving to the area to provide much-needed support for families.

Autism Association of WA Early Intervention Services manager Kate Cameron said the organisation was moving to the area because it was aware of the number of families with children with autism in the Baldivis community and the greater Rockingham region.

“We at the Autism Association of Western Australia are excited to announce we will be moving into the Waikiki area starting in July for Term 3,” she said.

“This centre joins our other locations ... in providing critical early-intervention services for children with autism.”

The announcement, coupled with the WA National Disability Insurance Scheme being rolled out in Rockingham at the end of the month, will provide families with a boost.

A Disability Services Commission spokeswoman said the NDIS would offer people with autism more choice and control about services and supports they received.

“Through the NDIS planning process, people with autism have the opportunity to identify their goals, and to choose supports and services that will assist them to reach these goals,” she said.

Although a need for extra support has been highlighted, Rockingham Autism Services has been helping children and families in the region for the past five years.

Owner Rich Harries said they were assisting 50 families with the majority of patients coming from Mandurah, Rockingham, Kwinana and Cockburn.

“I can’t work miracles, but we certainly believe that we can make a massive difference to young children and make meaningful change — improving quality of life for these children and their families,” he said.

“We’ve just taken on a new staff member, so we have six staff who deliver our early-intervention program and I think we will be looking to expand further.”

Baldivis Rotary Club member and psychologist Vanessa Castlemaine said after working in the industry for 27 years, she had learned to spot the gaps in service provision, which led her to create a youth survey to find out exactly what support was required for the growing suburb.

“If you’re going to deliver a service, you want to make sure it’s needed so (Baldivis Rotary Club) made a short survey and we’ve only just started,” she said.

“I have noticed in my practice, there is a lot of young adolescents with autism that find it difficult to form social networks.”

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