The Crooked Carrot hosts Easter egg hunt for autistic therapy provider

MICAH Inclusion founder Liz Martin and Business Manager Sophie Walker loved joining in on their Easter egg hunt at the Crooked Carrot.
MICAH Inclusion founder Liz Martin and Business Manager Sophie Walker loved joining in on their Easter egg hunt at the Crooked Carrot.

Improving access to inclusive activities for children with autism was the catalyst for a local cafe and therapy provider to form a partnership.

The Crooked Carrot created a sensory playground late last year after realising the potential benefit it could have for children with autism.

Co-owner Sonia Castro said children from Mainstream Inclusion for Children with Autism, also known as MICAH trialed the playground late last year.

"One of my friends has a child with autism so I just thought it would be good to have something accessible for these kids. We have a calm down cubby for children with sensory overload but there's a few more sensory elements I'm wanting to add in the future," she said.

Therapy provider founder and behaviour analysist Liz Martin said her staff chose the venue because of its inclusivity, especially with their sensory playground.

To celebrate Easter, the therapy provider held an Easter egg hunt at the cafe which allowed the children to enjoy the sensory playground.

Ms Martin told the Mail when her son Micah was diagnosed with a severe level of autism seven years ago, there were no service providers in the South West.

"I threw my heart and soul into studying applied behaviour analysis which is the science of human learning and behaviour. I have now made a full time job out of this. It's been a long journey to go from no services in the South West to what we are setting up now."

Ms Martin's sons, eight-year-old Micah and 11-year-old Kai both have autism and have benefited immensely from the therapy provider.

The provider focuses on behavioural therapy, resources for inclusion, classroom support and advocacy in meetings and at school, to assist children up to the age of sixteen with autism.

Commonly referred to as an invisible disability, autism is a developmental disorder that affects an individual's ability to interact and communicate.

Ms Martin's business works individually with children to create individual plans to benefit both children and their families.

"We focus on inclusion and look at how we can reduce the disabling features of a child's autism, but increase the opportunity for them to be the amazing, little people that they are," Ms Martin said.

Ms Martin said that all her staff have either worked as education assistants or have lived experience with autism.

Business Manager Sophie Walker first met Ms Martin in July of last year when her six-year-old daughter Violet was diagnosed with autism level two/three, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and pathological demand avoidance.

"Violet is my fifth daughter so all my parenting norms were thrown. Before Liz came along I was saying I need help, I'm so bad at this, none of my norms apply anymore," Ms Walker said.

Six weeks after Violet started at the therapy provider, Ms Walker put her hand up to be the business manager after benefitting so greatly from the program.

"At MICAH we understand that it's a costly option for our clients to go up to Perth all the time so we want to set ourselves aside and cater for what families in our region need. What can we offer these children so they can live their best life?"

"When a child presents challenging behaviours, we ask for compassion for that child and for people to understand that that might be their only expression of their day," Ms Walker said.

Despite operating for only seven months, Mainstream Inclusion for Children with Autism has around 22 staff and have now begun recruiting internationally for behaviour analysists.

"We need to continue to build a community for these kids as it's investing in our future and our region. The South West is my home, I'm not going anywhere," Ms Martin said.