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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015
16 I was attending the 'Circle of Security' parenting course at Gowrie SA around the time my son, then aged two, was suspected of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. At the time, there were so many things to think about. Was it the right time to commence child care and return to work? Was it the right centre to be placing my son? What was this Primary Care relationship based practice all about? And more alarmingly, the growing concern that there was something very different about our child and his development. A comforting answer came one evening as I was discussing the possibility of Autism with the teacher at the Circle of Security group. Her response went something like, "If Heath does have Autism, we can help you with that, we can help you make decisions surrounding his care and support you however we can" . I could've wept. I think I did. Kindness, and its wonderful expansive quality seems to permeate the Gowrie philosophy. As it transpired, Heath did receive a diagnosis of Autism. We did choose Gowrie SA as his child care and preschool setting and I didn't ever return to work in the capacity that I once did as it seemed we were all on a new path of learning and discovery. There were vast benefits in having the combination of Long Day Care and Preschool in one setting. The staff and grounds were familiar for Heath and with our changing needs there was greater flexibility with working hours. A preschool session could extend or be preceded by a child care session so pick up times were less rigid than at some preschool only settings. If a family crisis came up (sadly there were 3 deaths in our family during Heath's time at Gowrie) then Heath was able to attend on extra days as a child care booking, thus reducing the stress of change and avoiding unfamiliar carers. We were particularly grateful for this. The relationship with the Primary Care staff member felt beneficial for all of us. There was someone who understood our child and could act as a conveyor of information to other staff members as well as a welcoming figure for allied heath professionals who came to visit Heath at the centre for Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy. The Primary Carer could also be present at multi-disciplinary team meetings to advocate and to provide information regarding behaviours and successful strategies around those behaviours. These group meetings were a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and assist Heath to build on positive experiences. The meetings usually consisted of an educator from Autism SA, the Director of Children's Services, the regional Disability Coordinator from the Education Department, the Primary Care staff member and myself. The enormous outdoor play area was fantastic. Heath could enjoy physical play in the garden prior to group time, which made quiet sitting in a circle possible. If things felt a bit noisy and intense inside, there was always the expansive space and/or solitude of the natural environment outside. The outdoor play area enabled staff to accommodate Heath's sensory needs in a natural manner and in so doing build on his ability to participate at group time and other play activities. "KINDNESS BEGETS KINDNESS" Marie Littlewood Parent
Reflections Issue 58 Autumn 2015
Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015