Autism support services
Every person with Autism has different needs. Find out what disability support services are available for you and your family/whānau. We've also provided some information on Autism to give you an understanding on how our support services are structured to help.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological difference (a difference in the way the brain experiences and interacts with the world) not a mental illness. It's currently estimated to be present in 1-2% of our population. If you are interested in finding out more about this please visit Altogether Autism's website Autism Prevalence in New Zealand external URL page.
As defined by Autism New Zealand, every autistic person is unique, with a wide range of skills, qualities, interests, and personality styles. The autistic community has a saying, “if you have met one autistic person, you have met one autistic person.”
There is so much diversity within Autism because it is not a single condition but a cluster of underlying neurological differences that are present in varying ways in each person. The behaviour and needs related to these differences share common themes but show up in different ways for each autistic person. For this reason, the level of support required needs to be tailored to the individual.
Ministry funded services and information
There is a range of Ministry and government funded services available to support your or your child's everyday life and goals. They can be tailored to meet your needs and lifestyle.
If you'd like to access these services, the first thing you need to do is contact your local needs assessment service. You do not need a referral to contact them yourself.
They will work with you to:
- complete a needs assessment
- identify what you might need support with, and
- organise that support for you.
Find a needs assessment service near you.
Autism specific supports available
- Autism Parent Education: Provides a range of courses nationally for family, whānau and caregivers. The courses, Exploring Autism and Teen life are delivered either in person or remotely and each target different life stages. They can be accessed via self-referral, via a clinician or your GP or via referral by NASC (Needs Assessment Service Coordinator).
- Autism Behavioural Support Services: Behaviour services are available for individuals with behaviours that are impacting on their own lives and the lives of others. The service is based on a Positive Behaviour Support model and is individualised for each person being supported. Referral is via a clinician, your GP or the NASC (Needs Assessment Service Coordinator).
- Autism Developmental Coordination support: For families who have a member who has been identified as possibly having Autism or who has had a diagnosis of Autism. The Developmental Coordinator provides a single point of contact for the child and family and supports them to access appropriate support and therapy services. Autism Developmental Coordination is delivered regionally via Child Development Services (CDS).
- Child Development Services (CDS): This service facilitates support pathways, such as referral to Allied Health supports such as Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Therapy. Access to Child Development Services and Autism Development Coordination is via referral by your GP to Child Development Services, Health New Zealand.
Other services and information
Online resources and forums are a great way to learn more about services available, educational opportunities or support groups you might like to join.
There is also a wide range of information on Autism and services nationwide. We are in the process of gathering a list of these resources, you can find some of them listed in this section. Some of the organisations listed are funded by our Ministry and some are funded by their community.
If we are missing a useful resource for the autistic community, please contact us and we will review it before adding it to our resource list.
- Acorn Autism Charitable Trust: external URL A interdisciplinary centre in central Auckland and North Shore Auckland for children, adolescents and young adults offering evidence based, whānau-focused services. They provide diagnostic assessments, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioural therapy, and mental health services.
- Altogether Autism external URL : A free, nationwide autism information and advisory service. They run workshops, curate resources and can provide personalised advice.
- Autism Intervention Trust external URL : A small Wellington based trust that supports autistic children and their families through providing recreational activities, like holiday and gym programmes. They've also partnered with Victoria University of Wellington to develop and evaluate early intervention therapy programmes. It is grant and parent/member funded.
- Autism New Zealand external URL : A provider of services, support, education and information on Autism for autistic people and family/whānau, caregivers, and professionals. Autism New Zealand provide a helpful online database of local and regional support organisations and providers on their Community Links external URL website.
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network external URL (ASAN AUNZ): An advocacy organisation run by Australian and New Zealander autistic people, for autistic people. Their focus is to enable autistic citizens to achieve their full potential in society.
- Care Matters external URL : Has a broad range of online resources and facilitates Enabling Good Lives (EGL) workshops for families and caregivers.
- Parent to Parent external URL : Facilitates local support groups across the country in partnership with Altogether Autism. They also run helpful workshops on a wide range of relevant subjects which are a great way to find support amongst other families.
- Pasifika Autism Support Group external URL : This support group is for Pacific people who are autistic and their families. Currently only operating in Wellington and Auckland.
- Taonga Takiwātanga external URL : A Gisborne based group set up to support whānau who have a child or whanau member with Takiwātanga.
Autism Guideline Third Edition
The Aotearoa New Zealand Autism Guideline: He Waka Huia Takiwātanga Rau ('the Guideline) describes best practive on how to support autistic people in New Zealand.
Written for a clinical audience the Guideline includes over 300 evidence based recommendations developed by clinicians, educators, researchers, and people with lived experience.
Learn more by visiting Aotearoa New Zealand Autism Guideline: Third Edition page.