Daniel Kettles of Woodburn with his son Roy (8) is starting The Lighthouse School for Autism at the Broadwater Community Centre.
Daniel Kettles of Woodburn with his son Roy (8) is starting The Lighthouse School for Autism at the Broadwater Community Centre. Northern Star/David Nielsen

Teaching advance for autistic kids

PARENTS with autistic children will now have the option to try an alternative method of teaching with the opening of the Lighthouse School for Autism at Broadwater.

Not satisfied with Australia's current teaching curriculum for special needs children, school teacher Daniel Kettels, of Woodburn, set out to find a 'more effective' method of teaching Roy, his eight-year-old autistic son.

“I was in Ireland, where I discovered Applied Behaviour Analysis, or ABA, an effective and researched method used to teach children with autism,” Mr Kettels said.

ABA uses sign language and the picture exchange communication system to develop language, and focuses on communication skills and social interaction, while taking into consideration each child's specific needs and requirements.

Although the teaching method is funded in Ireland, Mr Kettels said there were no schools that taught it in Australia.

“It's sad because this method of teaching is specific to autistic children and is very technical and scientific in its approach,” he said.

Mr Kettels said it would be difficult obtaining government funding because the training of teachers and parents would be costly.

“In the long run, however, it is very cost affective as less autistic children and special needs children will be institutionalised,” Mr Kettels said.

Mr Kettels has Bachelor in Primary Teaching and Special Needs degrees, and is also a founding member of a training organisation in Ireland set up to train teachers and parents with autistic children.

“We need more training organisations in Australia for this learning method, which motivates autistic children and conditions their behaviour,” Mr Kettels said.

An information day will be held on Saturday, September 20, from 2pm-4pm, at the Broadwater Community Hall in Little Pitt Street.

The Lighthouse School for Autism will open in February next year for children aged four to 18 years and will be held at the Broadwater Community Hall. School fees will be $30 a week.

For more information on the school contact 0434 615 685.



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