A session of The Lab in practice
A session of The Lab in practice Florian Schuh

Help get The Lab up and running for our kids

A NATIONAL program to engage young people aged 10-16 with high functioning autism and Asperger's who enjoy working with computers is coming to the Clarence Valley.

All it needs now is some kids.

Known as "The Lab”, the program will come to the Clarence Valley at the New School of Arts with its first session scheduled for June 15, and volunteer organiser Bob Carnaby said in other locations is great demand for the service.

"There is only one other branch of the Lab in country NSW, and it's in Bega, but the organisers of the Gold Coast branch tell us there is such demand that parents are driving two hours in each direction each week to access the facility,” he said.

"We believe that will be the case here in Grafton, but we need to get the word out...as registration numbers have been slow so coming in, and we are doubting we can get this off the ground.”

At each weekly two-hour Lab session, two or more computer programmers and designers work individually with between 12 and 20 young people to develop their social and technology skills.

It creates an environment where participants can share their interests in a wide variety of activities such as gaming together, video creation and sharing, graphic design, programming and game development. Mentors are available during Lab sessions to support activities or to work with participants on new projects of interest to them.

"We've found that some of the most useful things first learned by participants during Lab sessions are social and personal skills,” Mr Carnaby said.

"This includes learning about how to work with others, how to make friends and how to interact socially, as well as simply feeling accepted and valued by peers with common interests.

"We want participants to undertake activities because it interests them, not because they have to. This approach is deliberately unlike school and is based on our experience with hundreds of young people.”

The Lab will run each Saturday morning during school terms.

For more information and to register interest, visit the website thelab.org.au or call Bob on 0419 610 917. Expressions of interest are requested now.