The A List – Autism Friendly Activities

For a young person with an autism spectrum disorder, finding the right group of people, the right interests and activities, or the right peer support group can mean living your best life.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has shared a link to The A List. The A List is an online platform for young people with autism and their loved ones to find autism-friendly activities, whatever their age, interests, needs or level of function.

But how does it work, and what sort of activities are included? Let’s take a quick look.

What is The A List?

The A List is an online platform where people can search for social activities that suit their needs. In some cases, you can book directly via the platform or click through to the relevant website to find out more.

It was started by Nicole Gamerov and Bianca Shapiro of MyCareSpace, who saw the need for social options for young people with autism – and decided to do something about it.

How does it work?

There are several ways you can search for the right activities for you. One is to scroll through what is available. Another is to answer a few questions such as your age, location, and interests for a more targeted search of the available options. There are online and in-person activities and groups, including support groups, social networks, and skills development.

What sort of activities are available?

The site offers activities involving animals and nature, arts and crafts, computers and technology, games, holiday camps, carer support groups, peer support, sports, and travel.

For example, you might find a music teacher in your area who has experience teaching children and young people with ASD to learn piano, or perhaps the tuba! Or maybe you like to sing and dance and want to join a drama group.

Or how about an online course to learn about pet care and the skills needed to work in the pet care industry?

There are cooking classes, meditation, dirt bike riding, AFL, horse riding, computer classes, Minecraft groups including moderated Minecraft gaming, choirs, nature camps, mini-golf … the list goes on. There are one-off activities and ongoing courses. There is likely to be an activity to suit a young person with ASD and their interests or needs.

What else is there?

The A List also has a register of support services and resources, such as videos, to help young people with autism improve their social skills, including conversation skills, managing social anxiety and travel skills – even managing the often tricky area of relationships.

Have a look:

The A List has activities and partner organisations across Australia, including support networks and services. As a support organisation ourselves, the team at LiveBig think this is a website worth checking out.

And remember, we at LiveBig are here for all your disability support needs under your NDIS plan, with flexible, tailored services including psychology, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, speech pathology, behaviour support, counselling, physiotherapy and employment support.

Navigating The First Year of Autism Diagnosis

Processing your emotions about the diagnosis can seem overwhelming enough without understanding all the information that accompanies it.

The federal government-funded Autism Awareness Australia has an amazing online resource, Autism: What Next? to help guide the first steps of your autism journey. It was created by people with autism and their loved ones, for people with autism and their loved ones.

But let’s start at the beginning.

What is autism?

Autism: What Next? defines autism spectrum disorder as a development disorder that “affects the way people communicate and relate with the world”. It is key to note that, as the name implies, it covers a full spectrum of behaviours. And while some behaviours can make life a little more tricky to navigate, some are important skills and strengths.

How is it diagnosed?

There is no precise test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. It is based on behaviours using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Some key diagnostic behaviours include little or no interest in other people’s interests or emotions or difficulty making friends or engaging in conversation. People diagnosed at Level 1 need some support, Level 2 need substantial support, and Level 3 need very substantial support.

While most ASD diagnoses are made in early childhood, some Level 1 ASD might not be diagnosed until a child starts school or even high school.

And sometimes it can go unrecognised into adulthood for many reasons – not least because, like every human being, no two people with autism are the same. Some people may have been misdiagnosed when younger, or their circumstances may have changed. When people live independently, focus on their behaviours may highlight additional needs.

What next?

Whatever the case, there are supports available for people with autism, and their loved ones, for each stage of the autism journey. Autism: What Next? has a wide range of information and is well worth a read.

LiveBig

At LiveBig, we deliver flexible, tailored supports that meet our clients’ individual needs under their NDIS plan. We have a wide range of services, including psychology, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, speech pathology, behaviour support, counselling, physiotherapy, and finding and keeping a job.

What about employment?

While being diagnosed with ASD might affect how you approach a job, and what you need to work successfully in that job, there are supports to help you find a workplace that suits you.

Also, many of the strengths and skills associated with ASD are highly sought after by employers. At AimBig Employment, our focus is on achieving the best outcomes for all clients. We support people with disability to secure, maintain and thrive in meaningful work and have the connections and the experience to match the right people with the right opportunities.

5 Things You Need to Know About Autism

1. An estimated 1 in 70 Australians are on the autism spectrum

That is approximately 353,880 people living with ASD in Australia. It is four times more common in boys than girls (Aspect Australia).

2. Every person with ASD is an individual

Autism advocate, Dr Stephen Shore, famously said; “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.” There is great diversity within the autism spectrum. Whilst differences in communication, social interaction, sensory receptivity, and highly focused are common in those with ASD, it’s important to understand that these characteristics blend differently for each individual.

3. Communication may be a challenge

People with ASD often struggle with small talk or social etiquette. They may not realise if they are talking too long or in too much detail about their special interest.

Autism.org.uk has some useful tips on communication with someone on the spectrum, such as:

  • using their name to get attention, making sure they’re listening
  • speaking less or repeating keywords
  • keeping questions short or offering choice, like ‘which option do you prefer?’
  • being aware of excess sensory input that may be distracting
  • avoiding irony, sarcasm, figurative language, rhetorical questions or exaggeration

4. People on the spectrum make great employees

Research shows that there are business benefits to hiring neuro-diverse staff. This is sometimes described as diversity in thinking and innovation, and in thinking styles and abilities. “People on the spectrum often demonstrate trustworthiness, strong memories, reliability, adherence to rules and attention to detail. They are often good at coding – a skill in high demand,” says Training Industry.

5. Individuals with ASD can continuously improve.

Autism is not degenerative. Individuals are likely to improve and thrive with specialised, individualised services and opportunities for supported inclusion.

LiveBig offers a range of supports for those on the spectrum including Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Behaviour Support.

If you or your family member is on the Autism Spectrum and would like to know more about LiveBig’s services, contact us today.

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