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Stewart House


For children needing something special.

Stewart House is a magical place, built on the side of a hill overlooking the surf at South Curly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

During the children's twelve-day stay at Stewart House, children are provided with medical, dental and optometric assessment, treatment and counselling. This is balanced with health and education programs and out of school activities to boost their self-esteem and promote better physical and mental health. These services are provided free of charge to nearly two thousand children a year who attend this unique facility.


Below is some information from a mother who has experienced the world of getting help for her “special” child. She has also provided some links and contacts below.

Hi David,


You asked for a short "blurb" on personal experience.


Usually, problems are first noticed by the parents. Delayed speech, "odd" behaviour - overactive, aggressive, socially withdrawn etc. This may lead to consultation with the medical profession. Getting hearing tests, eye tests etc. Often, the child has obvious medical problems - allergic rashes, asthma, middle ear infections etc (requiring grommets).


Often, it's the pre-school Kindergarten who first advises assessment by a Speech Pathologist (such as at Queenscliffe Community Centre) and the initial assessment can lead to further physical testing (audiologists, more speech pathologists, Occupational Therapist intervention etc).


The community-funded Centres are best as private specialist care soon becomes exceedingly expensive in addition to a seemingly ever increasing Medicare load.


By the time the child starts school, the School Counsellor usually gets involved with assessments (IQ etc) and, depending on their "networking", will refer the child on to community services such as (more) speech pathology, Special Language classes (as at Mona Vale Public School), where  the government will fund transportation to and from.  However, this class at Mona Vale is strictly time limited. (Frustrating for parents and teacher). Just as real progress is being made, the child is deemed "graduated" at the end of 2nd class and returned to mainstream schooling where (hopefully) he/she may cope and not need ongoing remediation.


If the child can't cope, their progress depends largely on access to trained teacher's aides within their Primary School, as teachers just do not have the time in today's average class to give the individual attention needed.


You need a "label" to access Government funding for Teacher's Aids. We paid privately for a year for a tutor eg, until the school used its funding for other "disabled" students to include our child as well. The School Principal then requested we "get the label" to access funding for them to help our child.


To get the "label".............................


It costs approximately $400 to have a child assessed through a private Psychologist. A Paediatrician charges the usual Specialist fee, partly refundable under Medicare. Queenscliffe Centre provides Paediatric Psychiatric services for free. Through the latter we received a diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at age 9 and finally had government funding by year 4 for a teacher’s aid.


The Autism Association (Aspect) also provides subsidised school liaison assessments ($150 - this is way below market price for a Psychologist) to help school provide a better service for the special needs pupil. This is an excellent service but has a waiting list (reasonable - few months).


Obtaining government services is a case by case, school by school, ad hoc system (despite official policy to the contrary) and largely depends on serendipitous advice and parental endurance.


However, there is a Tutorial Voucher Scheme currently running for pupils not reaching "literacy benchmarks". This is worth $700 or 12 coaching sessions. The coaches are designated by the DET, but there is some flexibility, luckily.


There are many excellent private services out in the community. However, many of these programs cost an average of over $100 a week. Therefore, the maximum is about 2 programs per week because of both time and money constraints.


Auditory Integration Training eg costs $2,500 and we found it to be of  dubious benefit. I estimate a Special Needs Child costs between $10-$30,000  per year, over and above usual childhood costs, depending on parental  income and access to services.


The one thing that is absolutely non-negotiable, in my opinion, is that the  parent MUST be the child's advocate and overall case manager.  As "expert" advice and services are often contradictory, it is best to monitor programs for efficacy and be prepared to change course mid stream, if necessary. Also, the parent is the best one to remember the "special  needs client" is first and foremost a child who needs timeout, play, being  a kid and having a sense of competency in a system which remorselessly remediates for weaknesses and very rarely celebrates strengths (which  often fall outside traditional mainstream school learning modes). 





 Websites and services:


1. Autism and Aspergers


 "Aspect" - Autism Spectrum Australia. Co-ordinates school outreach service and assessments for Asperger/Autism. Lots of useful links


Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia

Judy Brewer-Fischer and Bob Buckley's advocacy group for Australian autism/asperger kids/families. Links.




Queenscliffe Community Health Centre for Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Child Psychiatrist (Dr Raphael Chan) etc Ph   9466 2500 Fax  9938 4805



Lizard Centre, Lane Cove   Phone 9428 2467 (Speech Pathologists, Social Skills

groups, remedial reading/dyslexia)


Learning Creations, Top Ryde   Phone 9807 2999 Fax  9807 2099

(an eclectic mix of Auditory Integration Training, Kinesiology,  Naturopathy, Audiologists, Neurofeedback, Ron Davis  Dyslexia trained practitioners and various other therapies where  mainstream tutoring fails)


Action Potential NeurotherapyJan Osgood

25 Onyx Rd, Artarmon, NSW, 2064

Phone: 02-9419-6683

Email: josgood@actionpotentialneurotherapy.com

Jan Osgood works extensively with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD and Learning Difficulties using Neurofeedback,  Samonas Sound Therapy, and HEG.


Causes. Etiology and Biochemical Abnormalities of Autism

Dr Alan Schwartz's overall biochemical explanation of causes and treatments of Autism.


MINDD Foundation Sydney

Local Biological treatments of Autism, ADHD etc.Contacts for Australian doctors/practitioners etc. 

Also-Conference each May with doctors, nutritionists who are Pfeiffer and DAN trained.


Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!)
A Project of the Autism Research Institute, California, USA

DAN website for free video lectures downloads and links to latest science/treaments for Autism.


Pfeiffer Center  Illinois

Dr Bill Walsh of the Pfeiffer Centre brochure on Autism treatment and causes.



Irlen (glasses) Dyslexia Centre, Burwood   Ph 9747 1122  Fax 9747  1422


2. Visual/Spatial (V/S) Learners sites


(Encompasses ADD/ADHD, gifted-learning disabled etc)


Lesley Sword homepage. Teaching strategies for Visual/Spatial learners. (This page was under development when added here. A web search for Lesley Sword finds plenty of entries).


Inspiration Software

Visual thinking and learning software


Gifted Development Center


Linda Kreger Silverman's website (she coined term V/S learner) 


Pieces of Learning Books


Nancy Johnson’s book of visual teaching activities


(truly terrific site by Ron Davis. He not only shows the reverse side of dyslexia- ie what a gift" it is but also has a way to remediate the reading difficulties-book "Ron Davis "the Gift of Dyslexia".)


3. Sensory Integration Dysfunction


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Network


 Resource page


4."Gifted" websites


Hoagies' Gifted Education Page


 "the" (USA) website for gifted, gifted/learning disabled etc


Gifted Research and Resource Information Centre University of NSW


NSW Association for Gifted & Talented Children

Lots of useful links



 If I think of any others I'll send them but these are the main ones in each category.



More Links

Inspire Foundation

The Inspire Foundation is a national non-profit foundation that was formed in 1996 in response to Australia's unacceptably high rates of youth suicide and attempted suicide.
The mission of the Inspire Foundation is to create opportunities for young people to help themselves and help others.

Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP)


Other links – private providers

Sydney’s Child Professional Directory

The Sydney Developmental Clinic

A private developmental paediatrics practice specialising in the assessment of children with ADHD, ADD, learning difficulties, and associated learning, behavioural, and emotional problems.


This page is under development. Suggestions welcome.


Learning Links is an Australian charity and non-profit organisation assisting children who have difficulty learning. Learning links runs a range of courses and workshops.

See full list of useful links at the bottom of this page.



SMH October 31, 2005

Yet more genetic clues to dyslexia discovered

A year after scientists discovered a gene whose flaw contributes to dyslexia, scientists have identified two more such genes. More


The sites listed are for your information, but the content does not necessarily align with the policies of P&C NSW. No responsibility is taken for any material contained therein.