Amaze launches free national autism helpline, Autism Connect
A free national helpline, designed to support families, educators, and interested community members to access support and guidance about autism spectrum disorder has launched today.
Autism Connect (1300 308 699) is Australia’s first national autism helpline and aims to be “a first step and a one-stop-shop for anyone seeking information, support and guidance about autism,” and can be accessed by phone, email, and webchat service.
The service can support with a range of issues, including but not limited to:
- Exploring autism and autistic identity
- Assessment and diagnosis
- School and education
- The NDIS
- Behaviour strategies
- Referrals to services
- Peer support connections
- Finding autism-friendly places and events.
The service was developed by Amaze, a peak body for those with autism and their families. Those staffing the free and confidential service emphasised that the service is “available to autistic people of all ages, their family and friends, and anyone supporting an autistic adult or child in education, health settings, or workplaces.”
Evidence-based advice and support will be provided through the helpline, with CEO of Amaze, Fiona Sharkie, saying the service can also cater advice to meet the specific needs of each state and territory.
“There are many myths and misconceptions about autism and confusion about what support is available for autistic Australians,” she said.
An estimated 200,000 Australians have been diagnosed as autistic making it one of the most prevalent disabilities in the country. Despite the prevalence, autism presents differently and uniquely in every single autistic person.
“Every autistic person is an individual with unique needs for support. The Autism Connect team understands this and provides confidential and specific guidance and information relevant to each person’s situation, query, and location,” Ms Sharkie said.
In creating the helpline service Amaze worked with members of the autistic community and other stakeholders to develop a service capable of providing information and guidance based on evidence and research.
Many of Autism Connect’s advisors have lived experience of autism, are parents of autistic children, or have experience providing professional support, with Autism Connect being underpinned by a resourcing arm known as Autism Connect: Search.
The online hub is a comprehensive, self-serve repository of information such as fact sheets, tools, and a local directory of services so people can find services and community activities in their location.
For those accessing the service who need more inclusive modalities, a translation and interpreting service allows callers to speak to an Autism Connect advisor in over 160 languages.
The Federal Government allocated $8.4 million to expand Autism Connect into a national support service.
To access Autism Connect, call 1300 308 699, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 7pm local time. Webchat and email are also available via www.amaze.org.au/autismconnect/