New Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Service

Life Unlimited and Parent to Parent NZ have been contracted jointly by the Ministry of Health to provide a new national information and advisory service for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families/whanau.

Parent to Parent and LIFE Unlimited are national organisations with many years experience, providing information services for people with disabilities and their families/whanau.  Both organisations have played a significant role in the development of initiatives and services for people with ASD and their families/whanau.

Parent to Parent and Life Unlimited are working co-operatively together to set up and deliver this new service across New Zealand.  Development work is well underway and it is expected that the service will begin operating in October 2007.  The new ASD service will:
– Provide written information on ASD, support groups and services
– Facilitate contact with a Support Parent whose child also has ASD
– Provide information to adults with ASD
– Have advisors/field workers available to provide ASD information and advice throughout New Zealand
– Provide clinical and evidence-based advice on interventions/therapies to support people with ASD throughout their lifespan
– Provide a web site listing ASD service providers
– Support the development of community network meetings

When a family receives a diagnosis of ASD, they experience strong emotional responses, often a combination of grief and relief.  This leads to a search for information about anything that will help or “treat” their family member.  With the availability of so much information of varying quality on the internet and in the media, people are often bombarded with information and advice, much of which may not be sound.

The new ASD service will provide evidence based advice and guidelines on interventions and treatments.  To achieve this, we will have an Expert Advisory Panel of professionals and academics, who are recognised experts of ASD in a variety of fields, including education and psychology.  They will inform the knowledge of the service.  This group will interpret the research and offer clinical and evidence based information and advice on the latest technological advances, interventions and treatments, as well as some of the “less conventional” therapies, that appear in the media.

Information and advice will be provided by ASD Advisors and a team of trained volunteer Support Parents who have children and family members with ASD.  They will assist families to translate the technical language of research, and appraise and make use of the best available evidence.  This will be done in a supportive and accepting way, recognising that different individuals have differing levels of need for information and different preferences as to how they would like to receive it.

All Parent to Parent Support Parents are specially trained.  They attend an 18-hour course covering listening skills, grief and the services available to families in their communities.  We are currently putting together a second-level training course for Support Parents on advocacy.  This is an area where families who have family members with ASD often require support.

In addition to this, the ASD Information and Advice Service will establish and co-ordinate local ASD networking and information groups where people with ASD, their families/whanau, providers and professionals can get together to discuss issues and share new learnings and information.  Regional and national training and development opportunities for those working at the coalface will be implemented.

The Expert Advisory Panel will have input by facilitating training at these meetings.  During July and August 2007, Parent to Parent CEO Anne Wilkinson and Life Unlimited CEO Adri Isbister will be travelling around New Zealand to introduce the service, receive suggestions, feedback, and ideas of a name for the new service. 
For more information please contact:

Parent to Parent New Zealand Inc
Phone: 0508 236 236


Life Unlimited
Phone: 0800 008011

Published 12/07/2007