Giant Steps, through the umbrella organisation Stepping Stones, also offers Playsteps, a play group program for children aged 18 months to 5 years who have recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Helen Appleton 

Helen Appleton 

National Director of Student and Psychological Services

Helen Appleton is the Director of The Assessment and Diagnostic Centre. Helen has worked at Giant Steps since 2005 focusing particularly on behaviour support, crisis management, family resourcing and working with and training other agencies in best practice techniques in working with children with autism.

Helen has a special interest in autism, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and mental health concerns for young people. She has presented at both national and international conferences on her work with siblings of children with autism and runs an extensive sibling support program at Giant Steps.

Helen has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science majoring in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology. Helen is also an Associate Member of APS (Australian Psychological Society).

Playsteps focuses on social foundation and preschool skills.

Playsteps aims to provide a family centred approach to Early Intervention.

It focuses on social foundation and preschool skills, and is run by a special education teacher and assisted by our trained educators. The sessions also include music and occupational therapy within our fully equipped OT room.

Parents are welcome to attend the group with their child, especially initially. However we are also aware that separation from parents can be an issue for children with ASD, so we do encourage parents to leave the program to give themselves a break. Children will be fully supported by the Playsteps team to help minimise the stress this process can cause. Parents are welcome to ask questions and seek support from the staff in the first session of the day. Such areas may include helping to manage challenging behaviours, setting up and teaching routines and facilitating new experiences.

With similarities to the Early Learning Program, Playsteps aims to provide students with opportunities to:

  • Develop overall independence
  • Participate in group activities, alongside peers
  • Build on social foundation skills, such as assisting a peer or adult to complete a task, playing alongside others, sharing and taking turns with favoured items, imitating actions to songs
  • Learn age appropriate songs, which may then assist during group times at other placements
  • Separate from parents for short periods

This is a fee based service and has a cost of $65 per session. This service is approved to access the FaHCSIA Helping Children with Autism Funding.

In 2017 there is currently an afternoon session on each Tuesday during the school term at 9.30am – 12pm. Numbers are limited to 4-5 children in the group. An afternoon group may become available later in the year.


Please support Giant Steps through a tax deductible donation and help change the lives of children and young and adults with autism.

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