Autism: How can I find support?
Every person with autism is different and may have different abilities, characteristics, strengths and needs. As a person with autism, or a parent or carer of a child with autism, you may require support throughout your life, or you may live fairly independently with ongoing support.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment, therapy and support services for autism in Australia. The best results are obtained from a support plan with interventions specifically tailored to your individual needs.
What supports are available for autism?
The federal, state and territory governments, as well as local autism associations, provide a range of support services to assist you, and families and carers, to navigate life with autism.
Support can come from doctors, public health nurses and other health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists.
Support can also come from family, friends, and other parents and guardians, and from autism support groups. As with everyone, you will benefit from a network of people to enrich your life and provide practical and emotional support.
Finding autism support in early childhood
Autism can be diagnosed in some children from around 18 months of age. An early autism diagnosis means children can receive early intervention. The sooner a child has access to this, the sooner functional skills across a range of areas can be developed. An intervention is the word used to describe any treatment, therapy or service that is used to help support the quality of life for a child with autism.
The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach (now called the early childhood approach) is available to all children aged under 7 with a developmental delay or disability, and is provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). NDIS can provide funding for these early intervention therapies that include specialised learning, service planning and coordination, assistance and support to access services such as childcare and kindergarten, as well as specialised equipment/aids.
To find early intervention therapies and supports, take a look at autism support service providers by state and territory. For information about programs and funding for early intervention services and supports, check out the Australian Government Department of Social Services website.
Finding autism support in the school years
While school can be a great opportunity for development, young people with autism are four times more likely to require additional learning and support services than their peers.
There are a range of services and funding sources available to support a child with autism during their time at school. These include the development of assessments, learning plans and support plans, group activities and courses, assistive aids and technologies, speech pathology, occupational therapy, consultancy and individual support.
Some supports and services for a child may be funded through the NDIS, or a state or territory government, or the school sector (i.e. Government, Independent or Catholic schools).
In most schools, teachers and staff are often assisted by an educator with specialist training in supporting students with additional needs in the classroom. Schools are then often supported by specialists in their sector via face-to-face meetings or over the phone consultations.
Further support information for young people with autism, can be found at autism support service providers by state or territory. This includes resources for parents and carers, mental health services and support, government disability funding, autism advocacy, therapy options, classroom resources, children’s books, current research, online forums and social media resources, and helplines.
Finding autism support as an adult
As an adult with autism, there are differences in your strengths and behavioural characteristics to other people with autism, as well as the preferences and priorities needed in the support you require. With this in mind, there are a range of services and funding sources available that can be tailored to your specific needs. Some of these include:
- Employment: Learn how you can prepare for employment with support. You can also check out Disability Employment Services on the Services Australia website for support options.
- Further Education: Learn how you can access support for post-school education. You can also explore the Australian Disability Clearing House on Education and Training, for helpful hints, strategies and supports.
- Housing: Refer to Supported Independent Living (SIL) to see if you’re eligible for long-term care in your own home or family home.
- Recreational, social and support groups: Find out about activities and events you can take part in at the local autism associations website.
Support services for autism in Australia can often be funded through the NDIS, state or territory governments. Find out if you’re eligible for access to the NDIS.
You can find additional support resources in your state or territory at autism support providers, as well as visiting your General Practitioner (GP) or local autism association for the latest autism information and resources available to you.
You can also find Independent Support Workers trained in autism support, through Mable. Find out how you can use your NDIS funding to connect you with support through the platform.
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