Big turnout at open day for proposed autism school in Yenda

What’s the difference between a classroom for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a mainstream school classroom?

Visuals, visuals and more visuals. 

“I think in pictures,” is a saying by Temple Grandin, a well-known American with ASD. Children on the spectrum can often find language confusing, which is why visual prompts can really help them along. 

Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) displayed a mock classroom in an open day held at the site of the former St Therese school in Yenda on Thursday. 

Colourful interactive pictures and diagrams were pasted across on the wall, enabling games that reward and encourage kids to follow lesson plans. 

ASPECT Riverina president Jo Gillespie, who ran the information session, said they need about 10 to 12 enrollments for the school to go ahead. 

Dene Beltrame, Griffith Autism Support Group president, said there is a strong need for such a school in the MIA.  

“It is so hard for their families who constantly  feel that they have nowhere to go, many of whom have resorted to home schooling due to bullying.”

Dene’s eleven-year-old son Noah had impressed The Area News readers with his knowledge of capital cities. 

Ms Beltrame stressed that the school would not try and isolate children, saying they would seek to integrate activities with Yenda primary. 

“This class is in many cases a stepping stone to  mainstream education. It provides a chance for those on the spectrum with the opportunity to receive an education in a classroom setting.”