A purpose built, state-of-the-art sensory and social space for people with autism has opened in Adelaide’s northern suburbs
Brought to life by Autism South Australia (SA) and Variety SA, the Autism SA’s Northern Hub, located in Elizabeth is designed for individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and carers and features a range of therapy and consultancy rooms, a training facility, day option spaces and the Variety Sensory and Social Space.
Providing a safe environment for kids and teenagers with sensory sensitivities, the first stage of the Hub is complete, offering new equipment imported from Spain, LED lighting, a bubble machine, a LED ball pit, pulsating cushions, fans and aromatherapy.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Autism SA Jenny Karavolos says the space is a welcomed addition to the northern suburbs of Adelaide and is thrilled Variety were able to join in on the project.
“Autism SA’s vision is for children and teens living with autism and other special needs – and their siblings, parents, carers and friends – to have access to safe spaces to learn, socialise and be exposed to new experiences,” she says.
“We’re so grateful that Variety SA was able to share in our belief in the benefits of this exciting facility in the northern suburbs.”
The Hub was made possible through a Variety Sprout Fund grant which allows the space to be converted into a therapy site complete with soft play equipment, tunnels, slides, mats and art and craft supplies.
CEO of Variety SA, Mark McGill says Variety is thrilled to assist 1,200 additional children living in the northern metropolitan areas through the creation of this sensory space.
“This space is designed to create better outcomes for children with autism, by allowing them to be calm and focused, assisting with gross motor development and enhancing social skills.
Mr McGill says the Hub is another example of how Variety addresses the growing unmet need in South Australia.
“We sincerely thank all of our supporters who enable us to continue to do such positive work for the community.”
Controlled with a single touch on the interactive floor mat or by an iPad, the Hub allows the individual to choose their own experience.
“Just imagine you are looking at an image of the ocean, the room will look, feel and sound like the ocean. You can then easily change the experience to be in a rainforest as your next adventure. This providers a real-life experience for an individual that they may not otherwise be able to have,” Ms Karavolos explains.
She says the Hub’s sensory elements, paired with activities based around the child’s interests, encourages engagement and supports successful task performance.
“It is a totally demountable, adaptable space providing a structured and motivating learning environment.”
“It’s such a delight to see the smiles on everyone’s faces when therapy becomes fun.”
Developments will continue with the second stage of the grant to be used to provide innovative gaming and experimental experiences aimed at teenages on the spectrum.
A similar space is expected to be opened south of Adelaide in 2020.
Autism SA’s Northern Hub is located at 1/57 Elizabeth Way, Elizabeth and was officially opened yesterday.