Adrienne's tips

Finger pushing a 'Helpful Tips' button on a computer keyboard

ACT boasts strong and supportive autism community

Key local facilitator shares local knowledge

ACT Key Local Facilitator (KLF), Adrienne Gault, first attended the Positive Partnerships workshops as a parent when her son, Carl – now 14, was in year six.

“My son has high functioning autism (HFA), and attends a mainstream school with some support. The Integration Support Officer from the Education Department suggested I attend Positive Partnerships. While we had a good relationship with Carl’s school, like a lot of parents I was interested in finding more evidence based information. These workshops looked like a great option, especially being free of charge.”

“After attending the workshops, gaining some useful strategies and networking with some great people who shared a wealth of information, I knew I wanted to get involved long term so I could keep learning, sharing and helping to build a strong autism community in Canberra.”

“As KLF, my role is to act as a local key point of contact during and following the workshops. Each group of people at the workshops varies, so I keep in touch in different ways. Some people like to catch up over the phone or to regroup face-to-face, while others prefer email. For all groups I send out a fortnightly e-newsletter, answering questions that parents have asked. For instance, recently a parent asked if I was aware of a good after school care provider, I shared my advice with her directly, but also included that information in the email so others could access it too.”

“My main role however, is to be a good listener. For people with children on the spectrum, some of the best advice and support can come from others sharing a similar experience. Having a strong autism community means being able to talk to parents who share the same normal. The best thing about Positive Partnerships is that it creates these long-lasting support networks to help reach better outcomes for children with ASD.”

Adrienne’s top ways to share information at workshops:

  • The “Hot Topics” board, where parents can ask questions e.g. “Where can I find a good, autism-friendly hairdresser for my child?” and others can respond.
  • Describing your child in terms of age, school, diagnosis, interests etc. at the start of the workshop and posting up the profiles as a networking exercise. This way, people can find other parents with children of similar ages, interests and locations to potentially establish a local support network.

Community organisations to consider in Canberra:

  • Capital Football runs a Football Connect program which runs autism-friendly football sessions.
  • Canberra Aikido runs autism-friendly martial arts classes. This semester the children are working towards achieving a “belt”.
  • YMCA Gyms offer aerobic and circuit training for over 16 yr olds with ASD.
  • Mark Scarboroug, a local psychiatrist runs basketball training sessions which help improve social and sports skills.
  • Autism Asperger ACT has autism advisors for parents of children who have recently been diagnosed. People can also subscribe to the e-bulletin which contains articles of interest and local news, use the free library and participate in their workshops which feature autism experts.
  • CASPAR Facebook private network.