A new program will help support the inclusive education of students with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and ADHD.
The Deakin Child Study Centre and the Victorian Department of Education and Training have collaborated to extend the groundbreaking AllPlay program, which focuses on supporting inclusive football clubs and dance schools to create AllPlay Learn.
Designed by experts, AllPlay Learn will support children and young people with developmental challenges and disabilities to be better included in the classroom, through practical online, evidence-based resources for teachers.
The program includes professional learning courses and a one-stop-shop of online resources allowing teachers and early childhood educators to effectively implement evidence-based strategies in the classroom.
Director of the Deakin Child Study Centre, Professor Nicole Rinehart, says their vision is to make the world fit for all kids.
"One in five Australian kids will be affected by a neuro-development disorder, so we want more of these children and their families to feel safe, active and valued in mainstream schools, learning alongside their peers,” Professor Rinehart says.
The program also includes resources for parents, children, health professionals and the broader community and was developed through a $1.7 million grant from the Victorian Government.
Professor Rinehart says, "The focus of the resources is on specific disabilities and common issues faced by children and young people, with a particular emphasis on social and behavioural challenges."
She says there’s a lot of stigma surrounding kids living with the most prevalent neuro-development disorders and a lack of support.
"Over the past decade, clinical researchers have taken great steps forward in understanding how best to support the learning journey of children who experience developmental challenges such as autism and ADHD," Professor Rinehart explains.
"The issue has been that while these great advances are being reported in scientific journals, they have not been delivered to where they are needed most - the places where children learn, play sport, dance, and connect to the community.
"The AllPlay solution is to take years of important research in this space and present it in a simple format that’s accessible to teachers, coaches, parents and children.
"With just the click of a button, educators and teachers can now access the right knowledge at the right time to best promote meaningful learning outcomes for a child or young person.
"For the first time, AllPlay Learn will provide a consistent approach to supporting young people who face developmental challenges in our community, giving families and teachers access to a resource that is unparalleled internationally."
Chief Executive Officer of Autism Awareness Australia, Nicole Rogerson, says AllPlay has already proven itself successful in Victoria and welcomes its introduction in the classroom.
"We all know the importance of successful inclusive education settings,” Ms Rogerson says.
“There are enormous benefits for both the child with a neurodevelopmental condition as well as their typically developing peers in the same classroom.
“In saying that, it is easy to talk the talk of inclusion. Walking the walk can be harder without resources and support for educators.
“Congratulations to them and the Victorian Government in teaming up to expand the program to all children across the State."
For more information about AllPlay Learn and to access the program online please visit allplaylearn.org.au.