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Autism Cook Islands visits outer islands

Tuesday 27 February 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, National, Outer Islands


Autism Cook  Islands visits  outer islands
Programme manager for Autism Cook Islands, Kat Jensen, stands near the entrance of the new Autism building. Photo: SIAN SOLOMON/22062132

Autism Cook Islands is committed to visiting as many of the outer islands.

From March 18 – 22, Kat Jensen, the programme manager at Autism, and Lani Noovao, the outreach co-ordinator, will be heading to Atiu.

“We are Autism Cook Islands so it is really important to us to get to the outer islands as funding allows,” Jensen said.

In Atiu, Jensen and Noovao plan to meet with the principal, teachers, teacher aides, parents and the autism spectrum disorder students, to see how they can help.

“We will be available to do communication core board sessions as well and we will be taking along our Spike/We Do Lego kits to offer sessions on our play therapy programme as well,” she said.

“Once we are there, we will have a better idea of what they need at home as well as at school and will be able to give help with resources etc when we know what their needs are.”

This year, Autism Cook Islands aims to set up a smaller organisation on the island of Aitutaki for which the ground work has been done.

Jensen said: “We currently have seven families on our registrar, however, we are aware of quite a few more that are displaying autism spectrum disorder traits and are undiagnosed at this stage or waiting diagnosis.”

“We are very keen to get our Lego Play Therapy programme up and running in Aitutaki and are in the process of identifying someone to run that for us, obviously with full training and constant support from us.”

The organisation will be advertising for a full-time specialist to provide specialist input for their programmes to support people with autism, and to assist family and support networks to gain skills and confidence.