PlayConnect Playgroups are designed for families of children aged 0-6 years who have unique needs associated with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or developmental delays in communication, behaviour or social skills. PlayConnect is a welcoming place and a great way for families to connect with others, share knowledge and experiences, make friends in an environment of fun and mutual understanding.

PlayConnect is an early intervention strategy funded through the Australian Government Helping All Children with Autism Package. Children do not require a formal diagnosis or referral to come and enjoy all that PlayConnect has to offer. PlayConnect is a playgroup for the whole family and siblings and carers are also welcome and included at PlayConnect.

Click here to access the PlayConnect Digital Practical Guide.

 

What will happen at a PlayConnect Playgroup?

PlayConnect Playgroups usually meet for two hours every week during school terms. At PlayConnect, caregivers and children participate in a variety of play activities suited to the needs of children with ASD.

PlayConnect Playgroups are led by an experienced facilitator and while not a therapy based program, the PlayConnect worker can provide information about strategies for play, tools for supporting communication and transitions as well as specialist services in the local area.

The PlayConnect program provides play opportunities that are flexible and suited to the interests, strengths and needs of the children attending each group. PlayConnect playgroups are generally smaller and children can practice and learn new skills in a friendly environment.

At a PlayConnect Playgroup you will find:

  • Structured routines
  • Smaller group sizes
  • Visual aids
  • Modelling of physical play and social activities
  • Positive encouragement
  • A range of activities designed around the interests and needs of each individual family
  • Opportunities to meet with child development service workers, autism experts and specialists
  • Information about the variety of services and opportunities available within the local community and for children with an ASD

 

How will PlayConnect Playgroup benefit our family?

Parents and caregivers say that PlayConnect is beneficial because they are able to connect with other families, share experiences, information and support each other. Some families find that PlayConnect works best for their needs and their children’s needs; others enjoy belonging to both a community playgroup and a PlayConnect group.

“When I first started going, I didn’t know anyone else with a child with communication or social delays, so meeting other kids and parents was great for me, a relief in a way. In other groups it seemed hard to join in and other parents didn’t understand why my child behaves the way they do.”

– PlayConnect Parent, Cairns Queensland

Each PlayConnect Playgroup is led by a facilitator who works hard to get to know your family so that the play and support program that responds to your child’s interests and works with their challenges. Because ASD affects our children’s communication, perception and behaviours, PlayConnect offers the comfort of a safe and understanding environment that incorporates great visual tools, transition support and play strategies.

In addition to child centred play, the PlayConnect Playgroups offer parents the opportunity to meet and share experiences with other parents experiencing similar challenges, seek information and to find out about service and support opportunities in their area. Evidence has shown the value of playgroup of young children’s social, cognitive, emotional and language development.

PlayConnect can help children build their skills in:

  • Coping with change
  • Communication
  • Interacting socially
  • Taking turns
  • Following instructions

PlayConnect Playgroups are an initiative of the Australian Government Helping All Children with Autism Package (HACWA) and are a free service for families to attend.

Where are PlayConnect Playgroups located?
There are eight PlayConnect Playgroups currently operating throughout Queensland on weekdays and weekends.

Contact us for more information or to attend our sites in:

  • Ascot
  • Booval
  • Cairns
  • Holland Park
  • Miami
  • Rockhampton
  • Townsville

 

How can I find out more?

For more information on PlayConnect Playgroups, or to join your local PlayConnect Playgroup, please call Playgroup Queensland on 1800 171 882 or contact us here.

For more information about other early intervention supports available through the Australian Government Helping Children with Autism Package, visit www.dss.gov.au or call 1800 289 177.

More information

  • Where can I get help?

    It is really helpful to speak with people who know your child to collect information...

  • Communication support

    Communication is the means by which we give and receive messages. The means of giving (expressive language) and receiving (receptive language) messages can be quite different from one person to the next. There are different forms of communication: verbal, action, facial/body expressions or behaviour. However, no matter what form the message takes, it is important to remember that in all instances, it is an attempt to communicate and the challenge is to be able to interpret what is being communicated...

  • Network of supports

    Each State and Territory provides subsidised early intervention services for children under school-age if they meet certain criteria. Your child may qualify for these Early Intervention services. These services operate differently in each State and Territory. Ask your GP for more information about these services...

  • PlayConnect playgroups support guide

    Playgroup is an informal play session where mums, dads, grandparents, caregivers, children and babies meet together in a relaxed environment. Playgroups are set up and run by parents and caregivers, with children choosing from a range of activities set up to meet their varying needs.

  • PlayConnect Playgroups: A practical guide to playgroups for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    A Practical Guide for Playgroups for Children with ASD has been developed to assist in providing workers with an awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including tips and strategies to assist the development of a playgroup environment that is tailored to the needs of families and children with ASD.

  • Different types of play & useful activities

    Through the use of play, we aim to:

    1. Help your child to explore and respond appropriately to a range of sensory experiences, including their senseof touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell, movement and pressure...

  • What is an ASD?

    Autism is a disorder which impacts on several areas of a child’s brain development. It is best described as a group of disorders with a similar pattern of behaviours in three key areas; 1) communication, 2) socialisation and 3) imagination. These core impairments are sometimes referred to as the Triad of Impairments...

  • PlayConnect Practical Guide

    A Practical Guide for Playgroups for Children with ASD has been developed to assist in providing workers with an awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including tips and strategies to assist the development of a playgroup environment that is tailored to the needs of families and children with ASD.

  • Developmental milestones

    There is a timeline of expected skills attainment for typically developing children. Experience, knowledge and research allows us to predict an average age at which children will crawl, sit, stand, walk, talk, and so on. For some children the acquisition of developmental milestones may be delayed or seem different. Parents may have a sense of unease and feel that things are not quite right...

  • Ways to support learning through play

    Before you get started, it is important to set your child up for success. Creating a safe, familiar, predictable and highly motivating setting within which children feel a sense of comfort, belonging and ownership is a great starting point. As children with ASDs prefer environments that are predictable, it is beneficial to establish a consistent play area in the home or garden that is always accessible to your child...

  • Why is play important?

    Play is the most natural way for young children to learn. All children need opportunities to explore and interact with their environment. As your child explores their world through play, they will learn the fundamental relationships with which they acquire basic feelings, ideas and capacities to adapt to the world around them.

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