Autism is being diagnosed in around 1 in every 100 children in Victoria: that means that it is highly likely there are others in your neighbourhood who are experiencing the same challenges.
You are not alone: there are some wonderful support networks that you can join.
Support groups can be an invaluable resource especially for people on the autism spectrum, for parents and carers, and other family members. First and foremost they provide a friendly space or an understanding ear. These groups can also work on other levels, such as helping to create a sense of community and lessen any feelings of isolation from the wider community that people who are affected by autism may feel.
In a practical sense, support groups can provide important information on local services and supports, such as an informed opinion on local schools, and can sometimes act as something of a ‘middle man’, in terms of liaising with local government on issues that affect you as a collective of individuals with similar concerns.
Some of these groups may also run training sessions, social skills groups, or hold events with guest speakers.
There are many support groups around Victoria: some are autism-specific, whilst others are more general disability support groups. Some are for parents and some are for people on the autism spectrum themselves.
The listing below gives more information, including contact details.
Find our list of Victorian Support Groups here.
Start your own Support Group
If there is no suitable support group in your region, you might be interested in starting your own. The following information may assist you.
Here is a short list of organisations who provide assistance and support.
- Carers Victoria provides respite, free counselling, and information for families in Victoria.
- Association for Children with a Disability (ACD) provide advocacy and information service for families of children with any type of disability living in Victoria. They have a number of resources designed to help families find support and navigate the social service system.
- Aspergers Victoria is a volunteer-run not for profit which provides information and support to those with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism. Their services include social and support groups for people with Aspergers and their parents and carers, siblings and partners. They also host seminars, have a library, social media and an informative website.
- National Carers Counselling Program supports carers of children with a disability through 600 centres around Australia.
- Family Relationship Support for Carers offer free counselling, mediation and future planning support for families caring for someone with a disability.
- Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres provide free and confidential information on local carer support, disability and community services. Contact your nearest centre by phoning 1800 052 222.
- Parentline 13 22 89
- Lifeline 13 11 14