Degani Northcote supporting Autism Friendly Place Program    

IN February 2016, the manager of Northcote Plaza – Cathy Coghlan – approached Degani Northcote to see if they would be interested in becoming an ‘Autism Friendly Place’. The Autism Friendly Place (AFP) program, certifies businesses on changes they can make in their workplace, on becoming more Autism friendly. 

Since February, several staff have undergone the short training session, have displayed the Autism poster and are slowly learning more about how to make our cafe more autism friendly by:
  • Creating a story book about visiting Degani Northcote made available from our website and the AHWB Association’s website. This story helps prepare children with autism for a trip, helps keep them calm and reduces the likelihood of melt downs also has been attached so you can see
  • Lowering the volume of music when it is requested
  • Offering a quiet space if someone with Autism is not coping and needs to retreat to calm themselves and regain their composure
  • Not judging parents/carers when their child is having a melt down (for example if the child rolls into a ball and cries and rocks back and forth etc).
  • Dealing with customers that might witness children having meltdowns, and possibly complain (since a lot of people just think the child is being naughty) – we will happily explain that we are an inclusive place that welcomes children, teenagers and adults with Autism
  • Offering a glass of water to carers if their child is having a meltdown
  • Offering colouring books and pencils for children who may seem unsettled
  • Understanding and acting upon, the AHWB Association member card being shown. People will only show this card if they are feeling overwhelmed and need to be served more quickly so they can leave, or feed their children quickly and leave
In addition to all of the above, Degani Northcote have also hired a young man with Autism. 70% of adults with Autism are unemployed and we are determined to change this statistic. When Christopher started with Degani he could only say a few words and was very shy. Now, a few months later, Christopher is speaking in sentences and is fast gaining confidence and new skills. It is a great insight into Autism, educating our staff on what Autism means.