World first OT facility for adolescents with autism opens in Adelaide

Tags Autism

Posted 1 year ago by Nicole Pope

The supportive space will offer a range of experiences to support social, physical and functional development in young adults and adolescents [Source: OTFC+]
The supportive space will offer a range of experiences to support social, physical and functional development in young adults and adolescents [Source: OTFC+]

A world first occupational therapy facility will help the development of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Located in Mile End South, Adelaide the purpose-built clinic will aim to meet the needs of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 21 years old.

The brains behind the one-of-a-kind therapy service is South Australian-based organisation, Occupational Therapy for Children Plus (OTFC+), an extension of Occupational Therapy for Children (OTFC), the longest standing private paediatric occupational therapy clinic in the state with nearly 30 years of business.

The supportive space will offer a range of experiences to support social, physical and functional development in young adults and adolescents, including a large multi-purpose gym, custom built kitchen and outdoor sensory garden, with the option of one-on-one and group therapy sessions.

Following a 12 month search in finding the perfect space to build the facility, OTFC+ began organising a building and design team and importing equipment from overseas.

“We knew the environment we provided for our adolescents had to be challenging, exciting, adventurous and motivating and we think we have achieved just that,” OTFC+ Manager Operations & Human Resources, Michelle Mennillo says.

“Ten years of dreaming, three years of planning and fifteen months of building - we are finally open.”

The facility is a response to concerns and requests of many past and present families hoping for ongoing services to meet the physical, social and sensory needs of their children and is an extension to OTFC’s available services.  

OTFC Director and Occupational Therapist Dino Mennillo says a lack of age-appropriate care means adolescents with ASD are missing out on crucial intervention.

“The demand for therapeutic services for young adolescents and adults has not been met in the health division to the degree that it has for children,” Mr Mennillo says.

The programs offered at OTFC+ draw on an Ayres Sensory Integration approach, also used by its sister clinic in the Adelaide CBD, to help its clients achieve physical, emotional and social wellbeing.

“The LIFEskills Group Program teaches the skills required for independence, including physical activity and health, simple money handling, food preparation, home organisation and safety in the community, while the SOCIALskills Group Program focuses on communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, improving empathy and increasing emotional maturity and confidence,” Mr Mennillo says.

According to OTFC+ their social media pages have been flooded with positive reviews and comments about the space and what it means for their children.

With the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in South Australia reaching near completion, OTFC+ say they are more than happy to help parents of adolescents with ASD connect and engage with their occupational therapy services.

“A lot of our families are NDIS funded and we can certainly help people through this process,” Mrs Mennillo says.  

Autism SA CEO Jenny Karavolos commends the OTFC+ on the opening of the facility.

“We welcome all initiatives that support the autism community with positive outcomes,” she says.

At present, the centre is seeing around 100 clients every week.

For more information on what OTFC+ offers, click here

For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au

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