From the CEO: Amaze inspired by response to our world-first research project
I have stated previously in this column that a key strategic goal of Amaze is to change attitudes and behaviours of governments, the private sector and the community in general so that they better understand, engage with and accept autistic people.
Preliminary polling conducted by Amaze last year revealed that more than half the population had, or have had, a personal connection with autism (they have a family member, or they went to school/work with an autistic person, or they know someone with an autistic family member).
The results also showed a very high agreement (72% of the population) that more needs to be done to support autistic people and their families in the wider community (schools, workplaces, retail, recreation, hospitals, etc).
Only 29%, however, believed they had a good understanding of how they could personally support an autistic person.
This data provides a great opportunity for Amaze to tackle prevailing misunderstandings and misperceptions held by the community.
The goal is to then build understanding about what autistic people and their families need from society and to give members of the community skill and knowledge in how they can support autistic people in their homes, schools, workplaces and beyond.
Amaze has been working on what we believe is a ‘world first’ research study to measure ‘Community Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Autistic People and their Families’.
The research results will assist Amaze in the development of information and resources.The results will also inform our advocacy work with government and media on what changes need to be made to improve the lives of autistic people and their families.
The study explores current beliefs and the extent to which facts about autism are understood.
Experiences in education and employment
Amaze has also been conducting a second study to understand the ‘Experience of Autistic People and their Families in the Community’.
This will reveal the types of experiences they encounter from others and what they want the wider community to understand about autism as well as their experiences in education and employment.
I want to say a huge thank you to all those who have participated in the research focusing on the experiences of autistic people and their families. Around 1,500 people have participated in this major part of the project.
Amaze plans to again conduct these studies in future years so we are able to monitor how autistic people are faring in the wider community. It’s an important commitment in our continued strive for greater community understanding, engagement and acceptance of autism.
At Amaze, we refer to this as ‘making the wider world change’ – it’s a big job and one we’re proud to take on.
Fiona Sharkie, Amaze CEO