By Rebekah Devlin
Funded by the Federal government, Early Days is a series of free face-to-face workshops and webinars for families of children aged six years and younger, who are autistic or awaiting diagnosis.
Workshop topics include: My child and autism, Understanding behaviour, Encouraging interaction through play and social learning, Progression to school, Developing my child’s independence skills, Helping my child cope with change and an entire workshop on autistic girls.
Facilitated by state and territory autism organisations, the workshops provide core information about autism as well as practical advice about caring for a young child on the spectrum. There are also workshops designed for indigenous families and communities, as well for families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Additionally, any parent, grandparent or other family member who has concerns for their child is welcome to attend.
The workshops have been running for more than a decade and have helped thousands of families understand their child and provided them with skills and resources to access support.
Workshop groups are generally five to 15 people, and all are delivered by a highly skilled and experienced early childhood professional or therapist.
However, it is the sharing of stories that creates community, and most participants say listening to other families share their experiences, struggles, concerns and triumphs is one of the most rewarding parts of the workshops.
The program runs across Australia throughout the year.