Diagnosed with Autism? Top Tips on Next Steps
2 April, 2022
Focus Care knows that many children and adults are dealing with an Autism diagnosis and health journey, so we have put together some information for you on Autism, its challenges, and the Autism support that is available for adults, children and families in Australia.
World Autism Awareness Day gives us all a chance to acknowledge the hurdles faced by people with Autism and the challenges for those who love and support them. It’s also a day to celebrate their unique talents and to encourage support and acceptance in our community. Focus Care knows that many children and adults are dealing with an Autism diagnosis and health journey, so we have put together some information for you on Autism, its challenges, and the Autism support that is available for adults, children and families in Australia.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger's Syndrome, is commonly known as ASD. It’s a developmental condition that typically lasts throughout a person’s life, affecting how they communicate and interact with others and how they make sense of the world. Often it’s not obvious that a person has ASD. Specialist assessments are needed and as suggested when it comes to the term ‘spectrum’, it presents itself differently in every individual providing them with various challenges.
It is estimated that in Australia alone 1 in 150 people has Autism Spectrum Disorder and boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed. However, although the numbers are growing in Australia, it seems likely that it’s because, as a society, we are becoming better at recognising ASD. This is great news, as it creates the opportunity for early diagnosis and intervention. People are now seeking more information on Autism support and Autism services for themselves and loved ones and it’s helping people with ASD to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
Autism and the NDIS
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) provides funding to eligible people with ASD based on their individual needs. Every NDIS participant has an individual plan that lists their goals and the funding they receive. Participants can then decide on the support they receive, when they receive it, and who provides it. Focus Care is a registered NDIS provider and we can help you navigate support and therapy options for ASD, working one on one with you or your loved one to create a personalised plan. Contact us for a chat about how we can help you and the services we can provide through the NDIS.
What help is available for people with Autism
There is a broad range of services and therapeutic treatments available for both children and adults with Autism. From information and advocacy through to support and therapies, you can access a range of help. Depending on individual needs, there is help available for school and behaviour support, individual support packages, supported accommodation and respite care for Autism.
As the needs of people with Autism change throughout their life, so too do their support needs. Children will face the challenge of school and communication with their teachers and peers; teenagers have the expectations of high school study and the added stress of sexuality, rapidly changing bodies and of course the navigation of peer relationships. Then as adults with Autism, can struggle with things like finding a job, financial support, adequate housing, daily living and the expectations and pressures of society. With the right, flexible support care and therapies over time, each stage of life can be made easier to navigate.
Before the NDIS, parents had to self-fund most therapies throughout their child’s school years, with just a few rebates available for some care options. Now as an NDIS participant, care plan goals can include many funded therapies and supports. Funded professional support and help for Autism families can come from counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, speech therapists and occupational therapists.
Here is a guide to some of the professional help available:
Using various therapies, Psychologists can help develop strategies and support programs for managing Autism which can help with improving relationships, social skills and emotional regulation.
As with Psychologists, a Psychiatrist helps to develop strategies and supports for managing ASD, however many ASD people also experience other mental health conditions and disorders so consultation with a psychiatrist can be valuable, particularly if a person is on, or in need of medication.
Speech therapists help with all kinds of communication. In particular they work with ASD people on essentials like; understanding what others say and mean, putting your own words together and speech volume and conversation. They also work with nonverbal ASD children and adults on strategies to promote communication.
Also known as OTs, they work with people on the Autism Spectrum to improve sensory processing and to minimise the negative impact of sensory overload. They can help to improve fine/gross motor skills and low muscle tone with programmes that can include physical activities, play and developmental activities. They can also suggest modifications and technical aids to help to improve quality of life.
Focus Care Tip: Some professionals have an interest or expertise in Autism, they may have completed additional study or have added clinical experience. Find a professional who has more experience with Autistic children or adults. The best way is to speak to your GP, other families or peers or head to one of the following websites for more information:
Don’t forget that there are also some amazing social skills and community programmes around which can be successful in improving the quality of life in children and adults with Autism. There are peer support networks and groups and community and leisure facilities you can access for more information. Focus Care support workers can also help you or your loved one access these to do art or music therapy, get you to the local pool for a swim or even help you join a community sports team.
How can Focus Care support a loved one with Autism?
We can guide you through your choices and help you to find the best support care and therapies available. We will create an individualised plan, with the focus on a person’s strengths, needs and stage of life. Focus Care clients benefit from a range of service choices, social support being one of the most well known. We can match you or your loved one with a passionate support worker who will assist in participation of activities outside of the home, providing respite care for Autism, adult Autism support and support for children with Autism.
We also have a range of therapies that promote self expression, address problem behaviours and help to build life skills. Art or music therapy can be amazing at helping people to find new ways to connect and learn, and we will be there through your life transitions, changing and adapting with you.
Where can I find more help and information on Autism?
Contact the below organisations for more help and information on Autism support services, support groups, resource centres/services across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Ph: (07) 3273 0000
New South Wales
Autism Spectrum Australia
Ph: 1-800 ASPECT (1800 277 328)
Ph: (03) 9657 1600
More resources and support:
Get involved in World Autism Awareness Day this year by sharing information on Autism, starting conversations with those around you, learning more about Autism or getting involved in awareness and fundraising through your local autism association.
Focus Care offers these services through NDIS, Home Care Packages or privately to people living in Sydney, Melbourne, the Sunshine Coast, Newcastle Hunter region and Armidale. If you or a loved one are looking for support for Autism, contact us today to see how we can help.