Play to Learn

This programme uses play- and routine-based learning and behavioural supports to facilitate the social communication of autistic children

Poipoia te kākano, kia puawai

Nurture the seed, and it will blossom

Play to Learn

Play to Learn is designed to support the social communication of autistic children. It consists of a range of evidence-informed support strategies based on the principles of Naturalistic Developmental Behaviour Interventions. This programme uses naturally occurring activities (e.g., care routines) and relationships with whānau (e.g., parent-child play interactions) to facilitate opportunities for autistic children to learn new skills and behaviours related to social communication.

Play to Learn is part of the wider Waiora Tamariki research programme and cost-free nationwide clinical service. Waiora Tamariki is designed to promote the health and wellbeing of autistic children and their whānau by offering support options for child sleep, eating/feeding, and toilet training difficulties, as well as caregiver mental health.

Based out of the  Pukemanu Centre at the University of Canterbury, the team have many years of experience in the assessment and treatment of such difficulties, meaning our families benefit from the latest evidence-based approaches.

To make a referral or to self-refer, go to our referrals page.

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Kiwi Families


Our Team

The Waiora Tamariki Programme is delivered by a team of researchers, clinicians, and post-graduate students at the University of Canterbury. 

Laurie McLay

University of Canterbury
Programme Director

Lisa Marie Emerson

University of Canterbury

Aaron Hapuku

University of Canterbury

Hannah Waddington

Victoria University of Wellington

Jolene Hunter

University of Canterbury

Jenna van Deurs

University of Canterbury

Get In Touch

You can get in touch with the Waiora Tamariki team via the form below.

If you’d like to make a referral, please use our referral form.