Ben swings high

Posted on Oct 19 2015

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Ben swings high

Watching their five-year old son, Ben, showing other children how to use the playground equipment is a source of great delight for Simon and Stacey Baker.

Their confident and sociable little boy has achieved so much since being referred to Shaping Outcomes by Community Health and their paediatrician two years ago. Being referred to Suffolk Park-based organisation ‘Shaping Outcomes’ that supports children with disabilities and learning difficulties was life changing for them and Ben. “Our lives have all changed for the better. Ben has received such great care from everyone, learned so much and grown so much as a little person,” Stacey enthused.

Ben attends the ‘Getting Ready for Big School Group’ which aims to maximise inclusion in home and preschool activities and to teach behaviours that can be repeated outside the group, ultimately preparing children for the journey to primary school.

“A year and a half ago, there were some negative behaviours that we discovered stemmed from insecurity and Ben not understanding how to manage his feelings,” Simon explained.

“We might think ‘I am feeling tired’ and take a rest. Ben would get angry because he didn’t understand what was happening in his body. Now he has the ability to manage and self-regulate those sensory things and the appropriate responses.”

Shaping Outcomes receives some government funding but relies heavily on fundraising and grants from organisations such as the Northern Rivers Community Foundation to provide a range of services to more than 35 children and their families. A grant from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation enabled the organisation to purchase a special swing, designed to support children’s sensory needs as well as teach physical and social skills.

Shaping Outcomes Executive Officer, Zoe Cluff, said that the right playground equipment was important to offer children a diversity of activity for structured and exploratory play. “Children are supported to use the swing to assist them to achieve their optimal level of alertness prior to engaging in other activities, therefore providing the ultimate foundation to effectively learn,” Zoe said.

Ben clearly loves the swing, which has been an important tool in helping him to understand how his body feels and calm him ready for learning. Simon and Stacey marvel at the change in their son, watching as he makes new friends and shares his knowledge with the children around him.

– Story by Rebecca Park.

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