Alkimos Primary School to offer specialised program for students with autism

Teacher Melinda Papadopoff with Caleb (y1) and Tilly (y4) Puckridge. Photo: Martin Kennealey
Teacher Melinda Papadopoff with Caleb (y1) and Tilly (y4) Puckridge. Photo: Martin Kennealey

UP to 25 students with autism spectrum disorder will be able to attend a specialised learning program at Alkimos Primary School from next year.

The school will introduce the program in 2019 for students from Kindergarten to Year 6.

Program coordinator Melinda Papadopoff said the school would have three homerooms for students in the program – a kindergarten/pre-primary room, a junior room and a senior room.

Mrs Papadopoff said they would teach the students using evidenced-based strategies to help them develop learning skills.

“This is an excellent opportunity for eligible and suitable students with autism spectrum disorder to further develop communication, socialisation and self-regulation skills in a supportive, individualised program,” she said.

“We are extremely excited to be able to offer this initiative.”

Marangaroo Primary School has been running a trial program this year, which had seen attendance rates improve for students.

The State Government will boost resources and capacity for existing secondary autism extension programs at Ashdale Secondary College in Darch and Ocean Reef Senior High School in 2019.

Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk welcomed the program expansion and said the link between Ashdale and Marangaroo Primary School would “ensure local students can access the program if required”.

“The enhanced specialist autism program will contribute to local students’ sense of belonging and overall wellbeing in a mainstream public primary school,” she said.

“In other schools these programs are already reporting high attendance rates and positive feedback from parents, particularly regarding reduction in their child’s level of anxiety and increases in their verbal communication.”

The Butler north senior high school will also offer the program when it opens in 2020.

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said the primary schools were selected near the high schools hosting the program to help with a seamless transition for students.

“Parents can feel confident that their child has the option of continuing the specialist program from primary through to secondary schooling in their local area,” she said.

For more information, call Alkimos Primary School on 9562 9800, Ashdale Secondary College on 9302 7100 or Ocean Reef Senior High School on 9307 0222.