A free national autism helpline has been launched across all states and territories in Australia.
Developed by Amaze, a peak autism body, the service is for autistic people of all ages, and their family, carers, teachers and employees and is available over phone, email and webchat.
An estimated 200,000 Australians have been diagnosed as autistic making it a one of the most prevalent disabilities in the country.
According to Amaze CEO, Fiona Sharkie, there are many myths and misconceptions about autism and confusion about available support.
"Every autistic person is an individual with unique needs for support," she said. "The friendly team at Autism Connect understands this and provides confidential and specific guidance and information relevant to each person's situation, query, and location."
Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the government provided $8.4 million to expand Autism Connect into a national support service.
"From diagnosis through to adulthood, we want to ensure the more than 200,000 Australian people with autism have the right support to meet their needs and participate fully in the community," she said.
Amaze is launching a national hotline called 'Autism Connect', a free & confidential one-stop-shop service, providing expert information & advice.— Kay Kerr (@kaymariek) June 7, 2021
Finding out how to get an adult diagnosis is one thing you might contact them about, so I wrote about that https://t.co/aXJBh3UH8V
Former journalist and author Kay Kerr, who was diagnosed with autism as an adult, has written about her experience for Autism Connect's first newsletter.
"It is hard not to romanticise my autism diagnosis. When a lifetime of seemingly random and unrelated struggles is contextualised with one key piece of information, there is much to be thankful for...", she writes.
The team at Autism Connect offers expert advice in many areas, including:
- 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