Unlocking the secrets of friendships with Secret Agent Society

Unlocking the secrets of friendships with Secret Agent Society
Posted on Wed 20 Mar 2019

Written by Tina Wild

According to Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) the number of children in Australia on the spectrum has increased by an estimated 40% to 1 in 70. That may sound alarming but Aspect CEO Mr Ford said


“Autism is not necessarily on the rise in Australia. We are likely getting better at recognising and diagnosing autism in people of all ages.”


Dr Renae Beaumont, Secret Agent Society (SAS) Small Group Program author said that, “Accessing effective treatments from skilled professionals is one of the greatest challenges faced by families of kids with autism worldwide.”

To help address that challenge, CPA is excited to offer Secret Agent Society (SAS) Small Group Program. This world-renowned social skills program is designed for children aged 8 to 12 years who have social or emotional challenges, such as those on the autism spectrum.


What is Secret Agent Society (SAS) Small Group Program?

Secret Agent Society (SAS) Small Group Program is an evidence-based program, considered one of the most successful of its kind in the world, providing children with the tools and social skills to make friends, feel happier, calmer and braver. 

We caught up with Allison Hillery, Early Intervention Teacher and facilitator of  SAS Small Group Program to find out more about the program.

With a Bachelor of Teaching, Bachelor of Early Childhood, and a Master of Special Education (Behavioural), Allison is passionate about helping children’s social and emotional development.


“As an early childhood teacher I had many opportunities to help children develop through play. I learned to balance the incidental teaching moments with autism specific explicit teaching strategies.”


Allison was an early childhood teacher for 6 years before moving into Special Education. She then taught children with high functioning autism in a satellite class for Aspect over four years, and has been an early intervention teacher with CPA since October 2017.

“I was selected to do the SAS facilitator training when I was teaching at Aspect and was lucky to do the training with Dr Renae Beaumont, the program founder,” said Allison.

Ted Talk with Dr Renae Beaumont


 “Over the years I have witnessed the profound impact that social and emotional challenges have on children and their families. My empathetic nature and confidence in this program is what drives my passion to deliver it in the best way I can to make the most difference in our clients’ lives.,” said Allison.


What kind of kids can the program help?

“I believe this program would benefit all children. However, it is specifically designed for children with high functioning autism whose goals are making friends, staying calm, developing confidence and solving problems.

The program can be individualised to cater for different learning styles, levels of understanding and is motivating and fun for both boys and girls.” said Allison.

“Throughout the program it is such a pleasure to see the children open up and become comfortable as a group. Each week there is lots of laughter and fun and they don’t even notice the work involved. One participant’s sister asked me what I’d done with her sister as she now laughs and talks to other kids at school, which she’d never done before,” said Allison.


Supporting and educating families

One of the reasons Allison loves the SAS program is because it addresses the current lack of support experienced by families of kids with autism.

“The parent education sessions provide so much support and information for families that they seem to go away feeling more equipped and empowered.

The communication between the facilitator and the child’s teacher is another opportunity to educate others and a way of advocating for these children,” said Allison.


Is your child struggling to make friends? Help them to develop social skills and find their tribe.

Register your interest by 22 March to secure your place on the next program starting 29 April at CPA sites Ryde, Tuggerah and Croudace Bay. Call 1300 888 378 or email ask@cerebralpalsy.org.au

Do you have an interest in keeping informed on the the latest cerebral palsy and brain research? Want to understand the fascinating world of stem cell science? 

CPA has adjusted its fees in line with the NDIS benchmark pricing from 1 July 2019.

Related Services

(SAS) Small Group Program is designed for children aged 8 to 12 years who have social or emotional challenges, such as those on the autism spectrum.