By bobb | Fri, 28/10/2022 - 10:40
young child looking towards camera - out-of-focus second child & adult

Bethany Hiatt

Locations have been revealed for eight extra schools set to be added to the list of WA public schools offering a specialist program for children with autism spectrum disorder.

The rollout of the program, which provides intensive support to students who have been diagnosed with autism but do not have an intellectual impairment, will start mid-next year with two schools, Hampton Park Primary and Hampton Senior High School.

Other schools involved will include Wattleup East Primary, Hammond Park Secondary College, Westfield Park Primary, Kelmscott Senior High, Dayton Primary and Kiara College.

Previously announced in the State Budget, the program is being expanded from 16 schools to 24 within the next three years at a cost of $18.2 million.

Around 335 students are currently enrolled in the specialist program, but by 2025 they will cater for up to 516 students with ASD.

The program is designed for children who have the capacity to learn at or near their academic year level, but may have specific social and emotional development needs related to their autism.

Students with ASD receive intensive instructions in their own classes, while being given opportunities to integrate with mainstream students.

Former Perth Wildcats Coach Scott Morrison with wife Susanne and children Max and Shaylen.

Another option

Parents desperate for specialist autism school in Perth

Bethany Hiatt

Each school will provide specially trained teachers to support students with ASD to develop organisational and social skills, learn to self-regulate and get on with their peers.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the program would ensure eligible students got the intensive support they needed for their academic, social and personal development.

“We want every student to come to school to learn and have positive experiences so they can achieve their best,” she said.

“This program has already achieved excellent results for WA students with additional learning needs by providing the necessary resources to give them the best possible educational experience.

“Students have a range of diverse needs, and this program is part of a wider comprehensive approach to disability education in Western Australia.”

The challenges parents of children with autism face were highlighted in July by former Perth Wildcats coach Scott Morrison, who revealed his decision to resign was driven by his inability to access help in WA for his two-year-old son Max — who was diagnosed with autism on their return to Canada.