Playground brings joy to children with autism

19 November 2013

All children love to play but for children with autism, a normal playground might be fraught with uncertainties.

McCallums Hill Public School is one school within the local area that doesn’t need to worry about that issue anymore – a $12,500 donation from Canterbury League Club has helped purchase a new playground for children in their Special Education Unit.

The playground is specifically designed to be more interactive for students with autism and special needs. For example the talking tube equipment encourages students to play together rather than by themselves which helps with their social behaviour development.

“Children with autism have difficulty understanding the rules of social behaviour and managing their learning environment. The equipment encourages social interaction, turn-taking, sharing and a general sense of communal play with one another,” said Katrina Vallak, Autism Special Education Teacher at the school.

This primary school is one of the few mainstream schools in Canterbury that provides extra support to children with autism and moderate level intellectual disabilities. In 2011, they were approached by the Department of Education and Training to open a Special Education Unit and since then have grown to cater to 20 students between three classes.

“Children should have a safe place where they can play; especially so for children with special needs. They can enjoy being children but at the same time learn the rules of social engagement,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of the Canterbury League Club.