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Petra’s Place is a centre designed exclusively for young children on the autistic spectrum
to support them before they start school. Early interventions are so important and it is my vision that our centre will help children progress in an inviting and fun environment with a programme specially developed for their needs.
Drawing from my own experience
My own experience as a Mum and the experience of people around me, made me sit up and think about early intervention for children in the UK. When a doctor advises you to “get a nanny” rather than getting to the root of a problem, it’s extremely frustrating.
I found that in Los Angeles, where my family was living while my kids were growing up, the attitude was different and refreshing. The United States has pioneered an approach of early intervention for the treatment of autism and other conditions, based on the theory that the brain is more plastic the younger the child is.
I know I’m fortunate. My family has had access to the best doctors in the US and the UK but it’s now my mission for more children to get the same access to help as we did.
Petra’s place: helping children with autism to thrive
To get a diagnosis of autism at a young age is really hard and being on the waiting list means that children are missing out on treatments and care, so a centre like Petra’s Place will be able to offer such treatments at a much younger age and will help children thrive. I am delighted to be working with Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre as well as the Autism Research Trust and Gesher Primary School for Autistic Children.
Petra’s Place will work with a wealth of therapists specialising in speech and language, music, art and play as well as medical experts and will provide an individual treatment plan to meet each child’s needs. Every year, we hope to cater for 96 children aged between 18 months and four years in London and then plan to roll out a group of centres nationwide.
Children learn best through play and fun activities, so we will provide cooking classes, painting sessions and even hands-on science, all delivered in a relaxed environment without any sensory overload. Everyone we work with is fully trained to work with children with autism and aim to put their needs first.
With the correct attention and care, children with autism should be able to reach their potential and thrive like any other child.
My dream is to be able to offer pioneering early treatments for children as well as fun, educational activities all under one roof in a safe, relaxed environment where the whole family can come and enjoy time together. It’s time to listen to these young children and give them what they need to thrive.
Petra Ecclestone is a Philanthropist and mother of three. She is founder and Director of the Petra Eccleston Foundation, providing services and support for young children with suspected or diagnosed autism and their families.