2020 was a tough year for many, especially for young people with autism. Australia’s online platform, MyCareSpace connects people living with a disability with services and easy to understand information about the NDIS.
One of the common supports requested by parents and carers is for social activities for young people with autism.
“Every day our connections team receive calls from families looking for social and group activities for young people with autism,” says Nicole Gamerov, CEO and Founder of MyCareSpace.
Looking for a way to meet this need, MyCareSpace applied for an NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant through the Australian Government Department of Social Services, together with its consortium partners, and was successful in receiving $1 million to build their dream called “The A-List”.
MyCareSpace will build the A-List together with the support of their consortium members: the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), Autism Community Network and Autism Asperger’s Advocacy Australia.
The A-List will be an online hub that will give young people with autism, their families, and carers the ability to read reviews and search and book ‘autism-friendly’ activities from both mainstream and specialised organisations all around Australia, including peer support groups and community options.
Young people with autism will be involved in scoping, designing and building the A-List hub. They will contribute to development and creation of training videos and online resources which will focus on overcoming social challenges, setting goals and effective decision making, among others.
“44% of young people on the spectrum cannot make friends outside of their families and 66% do not spend time outside of school with friends according to recent NDIS data. The resulting social isolation has significant health and wellbeing consequences for these young people and their families. Even when they receive NDIS funding for social activities, many people find it difficult to find options that suit them. The A-List will address the shortage of social options as well as access to information,” says Nicole.
“Connecting is what we do, so it was a natural progression for us to find a way to solve this problem and connect young people with autism with social options,” says Bianca Shapiro, Chief Operating Officer and a partner at MyCareSpace. “It will also provide a marketplace for providers of these services and increase the number of options available through capacity building. This is an ambitious project. We plan to make the A-List “the place” to search, choose, and book all types of social activities and groups for young people with autism.”
While there are currently over 205,000 Australians diagnosed with autism (2015 ABS census), when we include their families and support networks, we conservatively estimate that more than 800,000 Australians are impacted by autism.