Rockhampton innovation assists autistic children

Mary Wilson EarlyAQtion CQ Team Leader, Autism Queensland at the John Villiers Centre of Excellence Photo: Austin King
Mary Wilson EarlyAQtion CQ Team Leader, Autism Queensland at the John Villiers Centre of Excellence Photo: Austin King Contributed

MARY Wilson loves her job working with autistic children.

The 28-year-old teacher is a team leader at Autism Queensland's John Villiers Centre of Excellence.

"Autistic children struggle with community, life skills and routines," Mary said.

"We work on goals with each individual child."

Mary explained how research showed the best process for children with autism was early intervention.

That's where the John Villiers Centre of Excellence comes in.

It helps autistic children in the early stages of their lives.

The facility was opened in August 2009 and staff work with children at the centre, make home visits and head to kindys to assist autistic children.

The centre is driving innovation in Rockhampton, as it has been featured in the region's Queensland Plan as a centre of excellence attracting human capital.

The centre strives for the best for the children they work with, and has a team of teachers that includes a social worker, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and teacher aides.

They are delivering their services to children, under seven years of age, with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder living in the region including Emerald.

Their families also benefit from the services offered by the centre. Mary said there were many techniques staff members used to help autistic children improve in life, including learning through games and music.

"Autistic kids respond well to music; and they also learn better visually," she said.

The centre has 12 children who attend weekly, while it supports 24 autistic children in total.

Although the new school year has just started and children have only been at the learning centre for two weeks, Mary can already see changes taking place.

"We've already had parents say their children have improved with day to day tasks," Mary said.


1100 were reached through their outreach team in 2013.

478 preschools and schools visited by the outreach team.

9000 number of emails to enquiries received by their Helpline in 2013.

Source: Autism Queensland


  • Affects about one in every 100 children
  • It is a complex and lifelong condition
  • Affects more males than females
  • The cause of ASD is not fully known

Topics:  autism children education

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