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Reserve welcome for children who like to follow the script

4 August 2017

For some families, a trip to the park is often not as simple as putting on a pair of shoes and walking out the door.

Loud noises, inclement weather and venturing into unfamiliar surroundings can be a recipe for extra-sensory overload for children on the autism spectrum.

Fortunately, Maroondah City Council with the help of AMAZE Autism Victoria has produced a ‘social script’ for Warrien Reserve in Warrien Road, Croydon North. This social script helps people with autism, or others who may feel anxious in new places, to learn more about the reserve before they visit.

Maroondah Deputy Mayor and representative on Maroondah’s Disability Advisory Committee, Nora Lamont, said a social script was a way of using simple text and images to help familiarise people with a situation, event or activity.

“Maroondah is proud to be among one of the first councils and organisations in Victoria to have developed a ‘social script’ that will allow visitors to acquaint themselves with all the various elements of the reserve before they visit,” Cr Lamont said.

The Warrien Reserve Social Script uses clear, everyday language and pictures to outline what you can see and do when visiting the reserve. It can be used as a fun reading exercise and can be personalised to suit each person’s individual needs.

“This printable document is available online to parents and carers to assist those who need additional help with site-specific information about what to expect from Warrien Reserve, especially if they have not visited the park before,” Cr Lamont said.

“One of Council’s key priorities is to provide for the wellbeing of our community and we’re pleased to have collaborated with AMAZE to ensure this reserve is more accessible,” she said.

According to AMAZE, the Victorian peak body for those on the autism spectrum, people with autism can face a range of environmental barriers, particularly when visiting a place for the first time. These barriers can relate to the structural or physical features of a built environment (i.e. lighting and noise), as well as cognitive and/or social differences experienced by many people on the autism spectrum, including a need for routine or predictability.

Cr Lamont said feedback from Irabina Autism Services, who have been working with a number of Maroondah families, showed that the social script had made a positive difference to children visiting Warrien Reserve.

One parent wrote: “This is a really beautiful way to communicate with kids and alleviate some of their anxieties.”

Another said: “I love the slide about the birds!! It gives the kids something really constructive to search for on their visit.”

“Council is delighted to have partnered with AMAZE in our quest to improve the Warrien Reserve experience for children on the autism spectrum, and we hope it is the first of many to be rolled out across our municipality,” Cr Lamont said.

“Efforts such as this are greatly appreciated by families as they often make the difference between being able to visit a place like Warrien Reserve or not,” she said.

Read more or download a copy of the Warrien Reserve Social Script.

If you would prefer a printed version, please contact Council on 1300 88 22 33 or 9298 4598.

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