In 2018, 205,200 Australians were reported on the autism spectrum by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (up by 25% since 2015).
This has driven an increasing need for autism-related information across the nation, with Autism SA receiving over 10,000 enquiries in the last two years. The enquiries have been wide-ranging, coming from parents, educators, GPs and other health care workers, autistic teens and adults, family members and carers, among others.
Working closely with individuals on the spectrum and families, the broader autism community, other experts and allied health professionals, Autism SA has developed an online resource called ‘The Spectrum’ which provides 24/7 access to evidence-informed autism information. The creation of the website has been funded by the NDIS through an Information, Linkages and Capacity (ILC) Building – National Readiness Grant.
Chief Executive Officer of Autism SA Jenny Karavolos says, “The Spectrum was born out of the need to make easily accessible pre- and post-diagnostic information for families, individuals and professionals to aid them with pertinent and reliable information. The core aim of this digital resource is to address the primary questions that people may have regarding autism”.
During the research and development phase of the website, many families and individuals across the autism community were consulted and they contributed to the development of the website by providing lived experience, guidance, content, videos and generously sharing their own stories. “One of the main things I like to explain is that people with autism have varied abilities and character traits, there’s not one single experience of autism” says Zoran Bekric, a member of the site’s reference community.
“This one-stop, digital resource aims to meet the needs of our community by offering evidence-informed information to people when they need it and when it suits them – whether it’s before school or work, late at night or during that very short time in-between life’s demands !” comments Jenny Karavolos. The information content is based on harnessing the breadth and depth of many years of rich expertise.
The website’s design and content provide a user friendly and accessible resource, written with an Easy English approach and translated into five of the most commonly spoken languages in Australia. The Spectrum answers the most commonly asked questions about autism and provides a comprehensive resource list to help guide visitors towards more information and support, during any stage of their autism journey.
“We’re grateful for the support and contribution of the autism community and the NDIS to develop this great resource. We are delighted we can make this available and we are confident that it will make a significant difference to Australians seeking reliable information and support about the topic of autism in their families, schools, workplaces and communities”, says Jenny.
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