Case Study PlayConnect Playgroups support children and families
To help provide support and services for children with autism spectrum disorders, FaHCSIA has partnered with the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to deliver the $190 million Helping Children with Autism package.
One part of the package funds playgroups to support families with children aged up to six years who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or who have autism spectrum disorder–like symptoms.
A support worker assisting in a playgroup setting noticed that one of the Indigenous children in the group was struggling with language. Three-year-old Emily’s* language development was delayed—she spoke very few words, and only to her mother, Shirley*. The support worker put Shirley in contact with a PlayConnect Playgroup specifically set up to support families who were concerned about their children’s development. After assurance of support from the staff and a meeting with a PlayConnect development worker, Shirley and her family agreed to take Emily to the PlayConnect Playgroup.
PlayConnect staff have helped Emily’s family access other assistance, including a formal assessment for Emily. Child-focused play experiences have been based on Emily’s needs and interests. Other families attending the playgroup have also been a wonderful support for Emily’s family. They share speech and occupational therapy strategies they have learned, and share information about the range of supports and services available in the local community.
Shirley feels her daughter’s speech and socialisation are improving through involvement in the playgroup. Emily recently told Shirley how she loves PlayConnect because she gets to decide what toys she will play with and which activities she is going to do next week.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.