So many people are affected by autism. It is not just the estimated 130 000 Australians on the spectrum. It is also their families, other carers, friends and colleagues and it is well known that the staggering increase in autism rates is baffling scientists the world over.
One of the best support organisations for carers who are caring for a person with an autism-related condition is Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).
This is a not-for-profit organisation committed to helping people on the autism spectrum achieve their potential. Aspect builds confidence and capacity with people on the autism spectrum, their families, carers and their communities.
Being on the autism spectrum is life-long. People may experience difficulties with social interaction, impaired communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities.
The word 'spectrum' is used because the range and severity of the challenges people face can vary widely. Intervention, understanding and support provide the best opportunities for many people with autism to lead productive lives.
Aspect operates a variety of services in NSW, ACT and Victoria including:
- diagnostic assessments
- early intervention programs
- a network of autism specific schools and satellite classes
- behavioural intervention
- educational outreach
- community participation
- a parent support network
- family and information services
- parent education and professional development workshops.
Aspect’s Far North Coast centre is running a series of autism-specific positive behaviour support workshops in Kingscliff during November and December 2011.
The workshops run over three Fridays – November 18 and 25, and December 2.
Targeted mainly at professionals, the workshops focus on a program called Recipe for Success, which develops a best practice understanding of autism and how an autism spectrum disorder might contribute to challenging behaviours.
Participants will earn the principles of how to create an autism-friendly environment and how to write an autism-specific behaviour support plan and a crisis plan.
They will also learn how to teach new skills to promote communication, emotional regulation and independence.
Aspect is also conducting a new research project about the life experiences and support needs of people aged 18 years and over with high functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder.
The goal of this project is to raise awareness and improve the kinds of services and supports offered to people with an autism spectrum disorder.
The research is being conducted using survey responses from two groups:
1. People aged 18 and over with a diagnosis of Asperger's disorder or high functioning autism (that is, autistic disorder or pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified without attendant intellectual disability) and
2. Their parents or family members who have primary caring responsibilities for them.
If you are interested in contributing to this research, please go the website and fill out the online survey. The questionnaire will open as a PDF form that you can fill in and submit online.
Learn more about Aspect or register for their workshops or research project at www.autismspectrum.org.au or phone 02 6628 3660 (for the workshop) or 1800 288 476 (general inquiries).