News - Early Start Australia

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June 23, 2022

Group Therapy Programs are a great way to boost your child’s therapy participation in the school holiday’s. Group programs can also be a fun way for children to meet others and create connections while learning and developing skills.

Our programs can be a one-off session or run over multiple days or weeks. Group programs build on specific skills, such as social, or fine motor skills and engage children through mediums that they enjoy such as craft, board games or Lego.

They are normally broken down into age groups so that the therapy models can be delivered in an age-appropriate format and the children can socialise in relatable peer groups.

All groups are facilitated by either occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, provisional psychologists, or therapy assistants or a combination of these.

How to book

Our group therapy programs are specific to each clinic and their available therapists so contact the clinic directly for bookings or expressions of interest for future group programs.

Find your local clinic here.

Can you use NDIS funding?

In some cases, NDIS funding can be used to fund group program participation so ensure you discuss this option with the clinic teams when booking.

School holiday program timetable

QLD

Toowong 

  • Lego Group: 28-30 June, 1030am-12pm for 5 to 8 yr olds
  • Winter Wonderland Craft: 4-6 July, 930am-11am for 5 to 8 yr olds

Murarrie

  • Connect with sports: 27 June, 930-11am for 5-8 yr olds
  • Minecraft: 4-7 July, 1-230pm for 6-10 yr olds
  • Winter Wonderland Craft:  6 July, 930am-1130am for 5-12 yr olds

Carina

  • We Thinkers: 6-8 June, for 5-8 yr olds
  • Lego Group: 30 June & 1 July, for 8-12 yr olds

Strathpine

  • Craft Group: 4-5 July, for primary school aged kids
  • Board Game Group: 29 June, 30 June & 1 July, for kids aged 8+

SA

Christies Beach

  • Picnic Club: 18 July & 20 July, 10am-1130am for 4-8 yr olds

Hindmarsh

  • Early Adolescent Female Leisure and Communication Skills: TBD, for adolescents
  • Food Group: TBD, range of ages
  • Toileting Group: TBD, range of ages
  • Sleep Group: TBD, range of ages

VIC

Oakleigh

  • Crafty Kids: 28 – 30 June, 9am-11am for 4-6 yr olds
  • Active Kids: 5 – 7 July, 930am-1130am for 6-8 yr olds

Camberwell

  • Bake-Off: 5 -7 July, 930am-1130am for 10-16 yr olds

NSW

Penrith

  • Lego Group: 4 – 8 July, 10am-12pm for 7-12 yr olds

WA

Stirling

  • Lego Group: 5 – 7 July, for kids aged 7+
  • Lego Group: 12 – 14 July, for kids aged 5+

Wanneroo

  • ASD Holiday Program: 5 July, 7 July, 12 July and 14 July, 12pm-3pm for a range of ages

Shenton Park

  • Craft and Pretend Play: 4-6 July & 11-14 July, 9am-11am for 3-5 yr olds
  • Lego Group: 7-8 July & 15-16 July, 9am-11am for 6-8 yr olds
  • Birthday Party Group: 7 July and 15 July, 930am-1030am for 5-7 yr olds

Armadale

  • Play and Social Skills Group: 12, 13 & 14 July, 10-1130am for 5-7 yr olds
  • Lego Group: 11, 12 & 13 July, 1pm-230pm for 7-9 year olds

TAS

Rosny Park

  • Lego Group: 12, 14, 15, 19, 21 & 23 July, for 5-8 yr olds
  • Minecraft Group: 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 & 21 July, for 5-11 yr olds
  • Food Play Group: 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 & 22 July, for 5-9 yr olds

ACT

Deakin

  • Essentials for Pencils: 4 – 8 July, for 4-10 yr olds

Don’t see your location listed? Contact your local clinic to find out what’s running near you.

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June 23, 2022

Drumming your leg when you’re bored, biting your nails when you’re nervous, or twirling your hair for the fun of it – that’s what’s known as stimming. And yes, you probably do it a fair bit. Stimming is a completely natural act of self-stimulation that almost everyone engages in – often without knowing it.

Here we take a deep dive into what stimming is, what are the signs and when is a good time to intervene.

What is stimming?

Stimming is defined by experts as ‘self-stimulating behaviour’ that presents in repetitive body movements, noises, or habits. There is nothing wrong with stimming and everyone does it at some point, in different ways and, in many cases, without knowing it.

For many, stimming is easily controlled, especially when social cues allow us to realise that our behaviour might be negatively affecting others. For others, these social cues don’t kick in and that’s when stimming can become a barrier to learning and socialisation.

What does stimming mean for people with autism?

It’s common for children and adults living with autism to engage in stimming. While everyone stims every so often, people living with autism will often stim in different ways, sometimes more frequently, or more obviously.

Children with autism may experience excessive and repetitive stimming that can become a barrier to education and socialisation. If necessary, there are ways to help manage self-stimulatory behaviours.

Signs of stimming

Signs of stimming - Early Start Australia

Stimming can take many forms. Some behaviours can be more obvious than others, while some can be more subtle. Many people may not realise they are stimming. For example, someone jigging their leg under the table might be causing others discomfort, whereas the person may be completely unaware of what they’re doing. Often people with autism have difficulty recognising and understanding social cues and therefore are less likely to instinctively adjust their behaviour in response.

Here are some of the most common types of stimming behaviours:

● Biting your nails
● Cracking your knuckles
● Whistling
● Tapping your fingers
● Twirling your hair
● Drumming your leg or foot

How does it affect kids with autism?

Someone on the autism spectrum can experience stimming behaviours in several ways. In most cases, stimming is non-invasive and easy to live with. A person on the autism spectrum might stim in different ways, like:

● Hand flapping
● Flicking or wringing hands or fingers
● Jumping, spinning or bouncing
● Blinking repetitively
● Licking or touching certain objects
● Pulling at hair or limbs

What’s the cause?

Cause of stimming - Early Start Australia

We are yet to fully understand why people stim. It’s thought that people, especially those on the autism spectrum, engage in sensory seeking behaviours to cope with an overly stimulating environment or to stimulate certain senses in response to that environment. Repetitive movements and self-stimulating behaviours can help to distract and cope with particularly awkward, uncertain or overwhelming situations.

Is it a negative thing?

Stimming is by no means bad. Actually, it can become an important coping mechanism and help people on the spectrum deal with difficult or overwhelming situations. Self-stimulatory behaviour can help people with autism cope by:

● Increasing certain types of calming sensory input
● Decreasing sensory overload
● Overcoming anxiety
● Communicating impatience or frustration

That being said, stimming can also have negative effects both on the person and those around them. Here are some examples of repetitive behaviours that can be dangerous or cause harm:

● Excessive or violent head banging
● Punching, pinching or biting
● Rubbing, scratching or peeling of skin or scabs
● Sexualised behaviours

Know when stimming is a problem

Know when stimming is a problem - Early Start Australia

How kids with autism can manage stimming

Generally, stimming doesn’t need to be managed or stopped. That’s unless it becomes dangerous or isolating. If it is causing harm, learning how to help them manage self-stimulatory behaviour is important.

Here’s how kids with autism can help manage stimming:

1. Speak to the professionals. Here at Early Start Australia, our multi-disciplinary team of therapists can provide the support and advice you need to effectively manage stimming behaviour. Every child with autism has highly different needs, and any treatment will be an individualised approach to address them. There are evidence-based pathways in early intervention, such as ABA or ESDM. And common approaches that help are psychology, occupational therapy, speech pathology and behaviour therapists.

2. Reducing social, sensory, and other stresses can help reduce harmful stimming behaviour at home or school. At Early Start Australia our multi-disciplinary team of therapists can give you individual advice on how to go about this.

3. Stimming can sometimes be brought under control via the use of certain medications that reduce anxiety. However, always use medications with the advice of a professional and make sure that any side effects aren’t worse than the actual stimming.

4. Help kids learn to control or change their stims into less harmful or disruptive activities – like squeezing a stress ball instead of scratching or biting.

Summary

Stimming is a common behaviour that we all do now and then. There is nothing negative about stimming; indeed, it’s a good thing for many people to help them cope with stress or sensory overloads.

People with autism tend to stim more, and while this is generally a normal and harmless activity,
It can sometimes cause negative disruption to their ability to learn or socialise. Learning to manage stims can be a helpful way to avoid potential harm to themselves and others.

Where to get help

ESA Where to get help

If you’re worried that your child’s stimming is affecting their ability to learn or socialise, or simply want to learn more about coping mechanisms, you’re in the right place. Early Start Australia has a team of occupational therapists with experience in helping children with autism located in every State and Territory waiting to assist you. Find a clinic near you for more information on how we can help you and your family today.

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June 22, 2022

Every child is on their individual journey through life. And in the early years, this journey can sometimes look different to that of their friends and peers around them.

Developmental delay is when expected developmental growth slows down significant or stalls, resulting in a delayed ability to communicate, interact, understand and engage with the world around them.

Learning the news that your child may have a developmental delay can be difficult and feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of therapy options available and awareness is an essential first step in being able to support your child’s journey.

Here, we’ll walk you through some of the main signs to look out for.

Language and speech delays

Language and speech delays - Early Start Australia

As one of the most common developmental delays, language and / or speech delay in toddlers is hard to gauge. Speech and language develops during a baby’s first year, and a child should be able to say at least 15 words by the time they’re 2 years old.

Language and speech delay can be caused by several factors like hearing loss, intellectual or developmental disorders like autism, or a lack of adequate social and intellectual stimulation.

If you notice your child is unable to communicate using at least one or two words by their first birthday, or only imitating rather than initiating speech, then this may well be a sign of a language developmental delay.

Some other signs to keep an eye on are:

● Limited sounds, or no responses to loud sounds at 3-4 months
● Limited attempts to imitate sounds at 4 months
● Trouble hearing or responding to loud noises (3/4 months onwards)
● Cannot say a word at 12 months.

Fine and gross motor skill delays

As toddlers grow up, they start to use their fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills kick in first – with crawling and walking, then the fine motor skills come into play with the ability to use smaller items like building blocks, forks, pencils, or crayons.

Delayed fine and gross motor skills can affect how a child interacts with people and objects around them. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for:

● Unable to reach or hold objects at 3-4 months.
● Unable to sit briefly without assistance at 6 months.
● Unable to crawl or cruise along furniture by 12 months.
● Cannot walk on their own at 18 months.

You might also notice smaller behaviours that indicate a delay in fine or gross motor skills like difficulty clapping, grasping, or reaching. If you start to notice these, it’s good to get in contact with an occupational therapist with experience in early childhood intervention to get a better picture of what’s happening.

Cognitive delays

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) - Early Start Australia

Cognitive development can also be a tricky thing to measure in young children. Cognitive abilities are the thinking tools needed to complete any task. Our cognitive abilities depend on how we understand the world and act to solve problems, remember and perceive things.

A cognitive delay is when a toddler’s mental ability is slowed down or limited resulting in a below-average performance compared to others their age. Cognitive delay can be caused by genetic conditions, complications during pregnancy or birthing, or other health-related conditions.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

● Limited babbling up until 12 months.
● Unable to point or react to objects of interest – like bright colours, or food.
● Failing to show their parents or caregivers objects they find interesting.
● Repetitive actions or movements
● Not copying or attempting to imitate actions or sounds

Social and emotional delays

Social and emotional delays can sometimes be the hardest to spot and are often the hardest to deal with over the long term. A social and or emotional delay prohibits a child’s ability to engage in meaningful ways with adults and other children.

There can be many different causes of social and emotional delays, including trauma, brain injuries, or cognitive disorders that mean the child might process information differently from others at the same stage in life.

Here’s what to look out for:

● Difficulty understanding social cues
● Little or no drive to interact with caregivers or others
● Prolonged tantrums
● Violent behaviour towards others

My child may have a developmental delay. What do I do next?

First things first: take a deep breath and remind yourself that there are plenty of options available to help your child, and your family to understand everything you need to know about developmental delays. Always remember: you’re not alone and help is available. It is important to speak to your GP, who may refer your child to a Paediatrician.

With a diverse community of therapists with experience in supporting children with developmental delays, not to mention the many early childhood intervention services available, you have multiple support networks already in existence ready to help you through the next stage. Get in contact with a therapist today and give your little one the support they need.

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May 2, 2022

Did you know that Early Start Australia also provides therapy services to adolescents and young adults? Many of our therapist's love working with our older clients and have the necessary skills and experience to work effectively with these age groups. We understand that new challenges can arise at different life stages, and that different types of support are required at various times in our clients' lives. We love seeing our clients try new things, master new skills, and achieve their hopes and dreams, and we are here to help!

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April 19, 2022

Did you know that Early Start Australia also provides therapy services to adolescents and young adults? Many of our therapist's love working with our older clients and have the necessary skills and experience to work effectively with these age groups. We understand that new challenges can arise at different life stages, and that different types of support are required at various times in our clients' lives. We love seeing our clients try new things, master new skills, and achieve their hopes and dreams, and we are here to help!

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April 19, 2022

Autism Awareness Month typically kicks off on 2 April with World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). World Autism Awareness Day is officially sanctioned by the United Nations and has been observed worldwide since 2008. The original aim of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was to shine a spotlight on the challenges that people with autism face every day. WAAD activities are planned every year by organisations and individuals all around the world to educate people about autism.

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January 19, 2022

A child’s play is their main occupation across their early years and is made up of moments in time as they seek out the meaning of things in their world. Starting in infancy, babies delight in being with trusted adults who gently show them the wonder of voice, eye gaze and touch; it is through these close relationships that babies learn.

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November 11, 2021

In the process of learning about giftedness and gifted assessments, many parents come across one particular question: which tool is the best for assessing my child? While there is no definitive answer to this question, as each assessment tool offers different pros and cons, it can be difficult for parents to gain a sense of exactly what each tool offers.