McKenzie Centre - Realising a child's potential - Early intervention for children with special needs - Te Whare Awhina o nga Kohungahunga Haua



Welcome to McKenzie Centre. We have been providing early intervention services in the Waikato since 1984. McKenzie Centre provides children with special needs, from birth to school age, with a transdisciplinary team of Speech Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy as well as specialized Early Intervention Teachers, an Assistive Technology Specialist and consultant Psychologist and Social Worker. We are the only early intervention service in the North Island with such a wide range of professionals located together in one centre.

One of our major goals is supporting families to realize their child's potential. Sometimes families are given a pessimistic outcome for their child so it is refreshing to come to McKenzie Centre and realize that something can be done. Together using the expertise of the family and guidance from the early intervention team we assess and then plan intervention to help the child develop to their fullest potential. Families attend McKenzie Centre to meet other families in a similar situation and we foster this by regular morning teas and support groups so parents can take a break, talk about their issues, share knowledge and support each other often forming long term friendships.

We welcome your thoughts and suggestions so please come and discuss these with me. Below are some thoughts from a parent who describes her involvement with McKenzie Centre.

Best wishes

Trisha Benge

Centre Director


Hi every one. Welcome to McKenzie Centre. Let me tell you about our little family. My husband and I have two sons, my first son attends McKenzie Centre.

 My child was diagnosed with an 'autism spectrum disorder'. Autism. When we first heard this word we didn't know anything about it. What is autism? Then a whole lot of information came, and then the question arose of which early intervention programme we needed to choose for our child. We did try other support, but McKenzie Centre was our final choice as it's a Centre you, as parents, can go to and there are whole lots of professional support that can help you when need it.

When our child was two he couldn't even make much noise. He also had repetitive movements, a strict routine, and behavior that we couldn't accept. There were tantrums all around the house but language was the biggest concern for us.  Since he has been coming to McKenzie Centre, things have started to change. We were introduced to our Speech Language Therapist, Estelle. She made an Individual Plan for our child and started to help him with his language. I noticed that they help our child by playing games and every day routines. Also at the end of the session the staff will always give you ideas on how to help your child. Through McKenzie Centre I have been able to learn a lot, I know my child more, what causes the problems and I know how to communicate with him better. The Centre offers a safe and fun environment for all the children. We always find fun activities there, water play, the sandpit, painting, reading, board games, and my son's favourite is music time. We always enjoy the lovely music and dancing. We have also had a great Education Support Worker to provide support for our son to meet his goals at the kindergarten. This makes us feel much more comfortable about leaving him there as our son will have support when he needs it.

McKenzie Centre also provides programmes for parents to attend and I have attended the Hanen, More Than Words program. You would be surprised what you learn through this programme, because I am. I have also attended McKenzie Centre's coffee group with all the other parents during the Parent Focus Week. In this setting you can talk about your feelings, about your child and yourself. Some of the other parent's steps are heart touching - first noises, first words, first thank you, first question... At these Parent Focus Weeks you will hear what others have gone through with their special child and you can tell them about your child too, giving information and love to help others, to know 'that you are not alone' you have us, you have McKenzie Centre.

 I want to say a big thank you to all the people who work for McKenzie Centre. With McKenzie Centre's help, my son has made huge improvements in his development, he can talk quite a lot now, and recently I heard him ask a 'question' which surprised us very much. I believe the Centre will help all of us to achieve our next goal for our children.