Pembrokshire County Council - Minister celebrates autism programme
A programme aimed at increasing recognition, understanding and acceptance of children with autism in their early years is being rolled out in Pembrokeshire.
It is estimated that around one in 100 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The programme has already been successfully adopted by the Little Acorns playgroup in Milford Haven.
And on Thursday, Rebecca Evans AM, the Minister for Social Services and Public Health, visited the playgroup to see the autism awareness programme operating at first hand.
Developed by the National ASD Development Team, the programme provides a range of resources including an animated film voiced by the cast of the television programmne Stella.
The Minister funded development of the programme as part of her ongoing commitment to improve the lives of those affected by autism.
She said: ‘It’s great to see this latest addition to our Learning with Autism Programme. I’m sure it will help everyone in our early year’s settings to understand the needs of the very youngest children with autism, so that they are given the help and support they need to achieve their potential.’
Ceri Hawkings from Little Acorns said the playgroup had found the programme easy to implement.
She added: “Staff now feel better equipped to support all children in their care and we would highly recommend the training to all settings and childcare providers.”
Pembrokeshire County Council, Hywel Dda Health Board and Sheffield University have been working together for some time to develop early identification and intervention approaches for children as they begin their educational journey.
Nearly all schools and 24 Early Years settings in Pembrokeshire use the Early Identification and Intervention Toolkits ‘Hand on Literacy’ and ‘Hands on Communication.’
Councillor David Lloyd, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “We have known for some time that early years schooling is key to later success in learning.
“I am pleased that schools and settings have embraced the early screening and intervention tools as well as the newly launched ‘Learning with Autism’ programme providing real building blocks for the future.
All resources are available at no cost and can be accessed at www.ASDinfoWales.co.uk/early-years.