Holistic NDIS support

Possum House has developed a holistic approach based on education, parenting support, integrated play therapy and group work for pre-school and primary school age children with autism and other neuro developmental differences, with or without a formal diagnosis. This specialist program is aimed at meeting the social and emotional needs of children by supporting family relationships, providing neurodivergent affirming education and understanding so children and families can thrive. Our approach aligns with current best practice guidelines for supporting neurodivergent children and their families and uses play and relationships to build skills and overcome challenges.

What challenges can this approach help?

Emotional regulation

Social navigation difficulties

Understanding and addressing behaviours

Relationship building challenges

School engagement

How does it work?

Possum House will allocate a therapist based on the child’s needs. We work as a team, giving us the opportunity to match the child’s need with therapists who have the best skills set to support them.

We know every child is different so the start of therapy is always a session with the parent or carer without the child present. This enables us to have a really clear discussion about how we can support your family in an open and honest way.

Sessions occur either weekly or fortnightly throughout term time, and depending on the child’s needs, these can be provided at Possum House in Warrnambool, Hamilton or Portland, or at school. At times the service can be provided at home, at kinder/day-care or via telehealth if required. We also offer regular parent sessions to review progress, discuss emerging challenges and provide support and education to families.

Why do we need to come so often?

Have you ever tried to teach your child a new skill? Walking? Reading? Swimming? Counting? I’m guessing you have, so you will know that teaching kids new skills takes time, they need to practice a new skill regularly, and they need to be shown how to do it many times. Learning to manage your emotions, get along with others, communicate what you need and regulate your behaviour also takes time to learn, which is why we see children so frequently. At Possum House change happens for children when they are connected to themselves, their carers and their therapists, and it is hard to form authentic predictable relationships with people you only see once a month.

Why are all parent education sessions one-to-one?

Your child is unique. There is a lot of information out there about parenting, but our sessions are not about general information, they are about building understanding of your child and your child’s behaviours, and developing real strategies which work for your family.

How do you help your child’s behaviour?

Behaviour is a form of communication. If your child is behaving in ways which are not ideal, we look at what might be causing this. Is it sensory difficulty? Do they have the skills to solve the problem or communicate what is difficult? Is this part of a pattern of behaviour that we can predict and change?

At Possum House behaviour is changed by developing understanding of why it occurs, and teaching skills to find ways to do things differently, including emotional regulation skills, social navigation and communication.

Do I come to sessions with my child?

The short answer is, it depends. At the initial session we will work out a plan, including which therapeutic approaches are likely to meet your needs. As our team have training and experience in providing a wide range of therapeutic interventions to provide the best fit. Some approaches do include parents participating in sessions, learning new skills and developing deeper understanding alongside their child. Other approaches are delivered by the therapist one-to-one with the child. In these circumstances we will meet regularly with parents to review how things are going.

Is this evidence based?

Yes. While we draw on a range of theories and approaches, each and every one aligns with best practice guidelines and is supported by evidence. Our approach has been designed specifically for neurodivergent children and their families and incorporates not only established interventions, but also uses up to date ideas and approaches. 

Possum House utilises predominantly Synergetic Play Therapy and Autplay for one to one work with children as these are uniquely placed to support the needs of neurodiverse children, combining structured interventions within a sound knowledge of neurobiology to facilitate real change.

Where appropriate we draw on other therapeutic interventions including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solutions Focused Interventions and more traditional play therapy approaches. The Collaborative and Proactive Solutions approach is often utilised to support changes in behaviour when this is a goal for therapy. This integration of approaches means we offer a service tailored to your families needs.

My child does not play with toys. Will this work?

Yes. Children do not need to play in traditional ways to access the form of play therapy we provide. We specialise in seeing children who are neurodiverse, and consequently are very used to seeing children who play differently.

My child has been seeing allied health professionals for several years and hates attending sessions. Will this be the same?

We often see children who have developed negative views about therapy but enjoy coming here as we allow them to make choices about how sessions look, while we build the skills they need.  

Is this funded by the NDIS?

Yes, we focus on building capacity of children and their families so they can thrive in a world designed by neurotypical people for other neurotypical people.

All sessions are provided by a qualified allied health practitioner (Social Worker, Play Therapist, Psychologist or Music Therapist), and are funded under the NDIS line items for Early Childhood Intervention or Therapeutic Supports.

Can I access this program with a Mental Health Care Plan?

No. Mental Health Care Plans are for the treatment of high prevalence mild to moderate mental health disorders. Autism is not a mental health disorder. Mental Health Care plans have a very limited range of treatment options and do not work holistically with the child’s support network.   

How do I access this program?

We accept referrals from parents, support coordinators, other health providers, agencies or schools for children aged 12 and under, who have funding through NDIS and are self-managed or plan-managed.