With two decades of experience as an English and Inclusive Education teacher, Emma Criss identified a significant need for specialised social and academic support for young people with disability and learning differences. Her response to this need is Affinity Skill Development, a new support service on the Sunshine Coast that promises to alleviate the concerns of many overwhelmed parents. We chat with Emma to find out more.
What is your background?
I have decades of experience working with students with a range of diagnoses, including ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, anxiety, depression, and ODD, as well as gifted and talented students. This experience means I understand the school environment and have an excellent knowledge of individual rights and adjustments available in this space. I also understand how difficult it can be for families and carers to navigate these fields.
Why do you feel so passionately about equity in education?
I believe everyone should be able to access the support they require to succeed. Therefore, I created Affinity Skill Development to offer a comprehensive range of services, including advocacy and learning support, designed to empower students and parents alike. Our business is underpinned by the understanding and acceptance that all students learn differently. A core aim of Affinity is to work towards a more authentic and inclusive society that embraces difference. We do this by making genuine connections with everyone we work with and delivering programs and support with passion and enthusiasm.
What advocacy help do you provide?
At Affinity, we understand that attending meetings in the school setting for young individuals with disability and learning differences can be incredibly overwhelming for parents and caregivers. That’s why our primary aim is to support families in negotiating the school environment and improve the partnership between home and school while working towards positive outcomes for everyone involved.
We can attend meetings alongside you to ensure you access the best possible support and help navigate the complex processes in schools; we also provide ongoing support. Our focus remains on creating authentic connections with young people and their families or caregivers.
And you provide learning support services, too!
Yes, we offer individual and group tuition services tailored to ensure students receive the support they require. Affinity Skill Development specialises in tutoring students with learning differences and challenges. We have taught for many years and know how students learn effectively.
We also tie this in with sessions for parents, providing them with resources and strategies to help encourage, support and guide their children. We offer individual and group sessions covering various topics, including tailoring resources for the individual student, study skills, the writing process and time management. We are here to help you achieve the best outcomes for your young person.
What is the PEERS® Program?
Affinity Skill Development offers the internationally acclaimed PEERS® social skills program — a positive, proactive and strengths-based approach to help motivated teenagers and young adults improve their social skills and make connections with others. We can deliver the PEERS® program via in-person group workshops, online sessions, boot camps, and in the school context.
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