Due to the enormous increase in demand for services to assist people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs), Asperger Services Australia Ltd (ASA) opened the Asperger Centre on the north side of Brisbane in June 2012. Research among our members and callers has shown the need for a centre that provides members of the Asperger community with a safe and Asperger-friendly environment to connect with others and receive a wide range of professional support and education services.
Asperger Centre is at Unit 1, 16 Yarraman Place, Virginia
This centre provides people with Asperger's Syndrome the opportunity to reach their individual potential to benefit society by full and effective acceptance, participation and inclusion in the community.
ASA Ltd believes that professional services combined with non clinical services will be more effective delivered in the Asperger Centre which will provide a more complete approach. Individuals and families will have access to a range of support services all in the one Centre.
ASA Ltd currently receives approximately 2000 calls per month. These callers require a range of support services and are often frustrated by the difficulty of trying to elicit them.
People diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) usually want to interact with others and would like to “fit in” but often don't know how to. They may appear to be socially awkward, oblivious to conventional social rules, lacking empathy, unengaged in a conversation, and unable to interpret the meaning of gestures, which can cause isolation, ostracism and loneliness and if not addressed, increase their risk of depression, anxiety and suicide.
To address these concerns, the Centre will offer the opportunity for members to drop-in and access information, support and services such as:
• Specialist appointments available, short waiting list (Clinical psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathology)
• In-house events (eg seminars and workshops)
• Parenting support
• Arts and crafts, music, and other special interest groups
• Support groups for children, teenagers, young adults and adults on the Autism Spectrum
• Tregular training facility (Secret Agent Society, social skills program)
• Youth Group
• Lending Resources Library
The Asperger Centre has private consulting rooms for visiting specialists . ASA has identified a range of professionals that benefit people with ASCs, such as clinical psychologists, counsellors, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists. By offering flexible consulting room, rental terms and secretarial services that can be tailored to suit their practice, ASA aims to attract a range of specialists who can provide the Asperger community with affordable professional services.
The layout of the Centre offers ASA the capacity to host regular events for individuals on the Autism Spectrum, parents and carers, spouses and partners, siblings, educators, professionals and other interested parties. By avoiding the cost of hiring outside venues, ASA will be able to promote a calendar of affordable events, such as seminars and workshops, which will unite the Asperger community, raise awareness about AS and the needs of “Aspies”, and provide education and guidance in areas such as health and wellbeing, relationships, parenting, employment and life skills.
ASA is committed to supporting parents and carers of children and young adults diagnosed with ASCs. Often parents and carers of people with Autism Spectrum Condition feel isolated, overwhelmed and exhausted. The Asperger Centre will give them a sense of belonging to a wider community where they can relax, obtain information and gain a sense of normality. The Centre will help to build these partnerships by offering:
• information of referral to professionals and service providers
• coffee mornings for parents and carers to meet and share experiences;
• lending resource library
• support groups for adults, youth, parents and new group (2015) for children 7 to 13 yrs
- • and a place to recharge and refresh
Arts and crafts, music, and other special interest groups
Research has shown that participation in arts, crafts, music, and health and fitness has enormous benefits for individuals with ASCs and is an effective way to deal with stress, isolation and depression. ASA is fortunate to have a large number of volunteers with diverse hobbies and who are dedicated to meeting the needs and interests of the Asperger community by offering regular interest groups. The Centre will provide a supportive and friendly environment for people on the Autism Spectrum, and their loved ones, to meet and spend time enjoying their chosen pursuits.
Support groups for children, teenagers, young adults and adults
ASA currently hosts a number of support groups throughout Queensland in various locations. Support groups are effective in providing emotional and practical support for members, and the opportunity to share knowledge, experiences, and resources helps to boost confidence and develop social skills, and contributes to a sense of belonging. Having space at the Centre will provide flexibility in meeting the demand for support through the capacity to accommodate fluctuating numbers, and enable ASA to schedule a range of support groups specifically for children, teenagers, young adults and adults on the Spectrum.
To address deficits in social skills, a core concern of Asperger’s Syndrome, ASA intends to run social skills training programs at the Centre for children, adolescents, and adults. Initially, ASA will provide the Secret Agent Society (SAS) Group Program (at a reasonable cost to members) which has been designed to improve the social skills and emotional understanding of 8-12 year old children with AS or High-Functioning Autism. ASA intends to offer further social skill courses suitable for adolescents and adults, and has a vision to extend its training programs to include life skills like grooming, cooking, budgeting, preparing job applications and resume writing etc. Volunteer opportunities for people on the spectrum to gain work skills in an office environment.
A proposed Edcution support service will be introduced in 2014. We are hoping to have a program up and running for students who are at risk of disengaging from education and supporting them to complete year 12 and move forward into tertiary education or vocational training.
Lending Resource Library
The Asperger Centre has a Resource Library, which financial subscribers can access free-of-charge. The library lending resources are extensive and include the latest books and DVDs, CD-Roms, audio tapes and games. The library catalogue is available on our website and you can now order resource items online.
Asperger Services Australia Ltd plans to increase the continued advocacy for better employment. Much attention in Australia has been focused on education and early intervention for children with AS and Autism, however, the challenges for children as they transition into adulthood and seek employment has been neglected.
Continued service and dedication
ASA’s dedicated volunteers will continue to work across all areas of the community to raise awareness of what Asperger's Syndrome actually is, and how people with this condition have a “different way of thinking” which requires understanding and acceptance NOT a disorder or disease that needs fixing.