Autism Queensland moves some services to remote delivery
3 Apr 2020
As the spread of COVID-19 has disrupted people’s lives and services around Australia, Autism Queensland is providing consistency and routine for people on the autism spectrum for whom change can be challenging.
Autism Queensland’s education and therapy teams based across the state have been working to transition services to enable continued delivery in the current disruptions to everyday life. Video conferencing, telephone support, and if required, face to face services with limited numbers and additional hygiene procedures will all be available.
21 year old Kate Pringle, who is on the spectrum and has intellectual impairment, has taken to the online environment enthusiastically, recently completing her first speech “teletherapy” session.
Kate has been receiving occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychology support from Autism Queensland Brighton.
“At Kate’s speech therapy session at home last week I was quite upset thinking that it was going to be the last time that we saw them for a while,” said mum Nicola.
“So when Kate’s therapist Rhona told us about moving the session to online I thought it was just fantastic.
“Kate has a very good bond with Rhona and was so excited to see her on the screen. Rhona kept the online session the same as what they would do face to face.
“Kate was really engaged the whole time during the online session,” she said.
Nicola said it has been difficult to explain to Kate why she can’t do her normal activities or go anywhere.
“It’s been challenging to find replacement things for her to do while at the same time limiting her screen time, which is the default thing for her.
“The teletherapy is using screens in a positive and interactive way, rather than Kate being passive she is engaging and continuing to develop her skills.
“Teletherapy with Autism Queensland is the only out of home activity that she has been able to continue remotely,” Nicola said.
10 year old Joshua, has also taken to the online environment enthusiastically after completing his first speech therapy teletherapy session last week.
“He likes it very much because he is more relaxed at home,” says mum Chai.
“I like it for the convenience and the time I save travelling to Autism Queensland at Sunnybank Hills, where he usually attends fortnightly speech and occupational therapy and some group sessions.
“Joshua hasn’t been in school since mid-last week and all his activities like Scouts, swimming and school band have been cancelled.
“Teletherapy with Autism Queensland is the only out of home activity that he has been able to continue remotely.”
CEO Pam Macrossan said Autism Queensland were experts at managing change.
“Helping people with autism to understand change, and manage the stress and anxiety that change can cause, is something we do every day at Autism Queensland,” she said.
“As we transition our services online it means we can provide support to people around Queensland no matter where they are.
“Our therapists and teachers who are running these programs will be using video conferencing platforms flexibly and interactively. Participants aren’t expected to be sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time.
Ms Macrossan said at this stage the term-based Early Childhood Group Programs that run out of each of Autism Queensland’s six centres would continue to be delivered face to face as usual. A number of groups for older children and adult will also continue in their face to face format including The Hangout and Make a Meal of It.
All workshops will be delivered by webinar for the present, and other popular young adult programs including Teen Tech Shed, Studio G, and PEERS® for Young Adults will return after the school holidays in a new remote delivery format.