Connecting & Sharing Experiences Living with ASD
STEPS Autism Treehouse invite parents and carers to a free social dinner event at the Duporth Hotel Maroochydore, 6.30pm, August 20 to connect, exchange stories and helpful tips about living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
STEPS Autism Treehouse program coordinator Jessica Winnell facilitates regular social groups for Coast parents and teens with ASD, to connect in a familiar space, and to share the joys and challenges that autism brings to their lives.
Jess is the mother of children on the spectrum and says her own experiences help her to help others.
“I can honestly relate to what families are feeling and the challenges they are facing on a day-to-day basis,” Jess said.
“I can really listen to parents about what they are going through and draw from my own experiences to help them get through what can be a very challenging and confusing time, especially on top of dealing with a global pandemic.
“I can also take some of the stress out of the whole process for them by explaining what has worked for me and how to get the ball rolling with things like funding, group therapy, suggest helpful resources like books and podcasts, I think I have tried every single online program and some work better than others.
“Whenever we are having a tough time at home with the kids we always seek help and I encourage all the families we connect with to do the same.
“A lot of parents have found this year to be really difficult, and we would love to see parents come out and have a break and a free meal, connect and socialise with us, even for a couple of hours,” Jess said.
Jess says her autism journey wasn’t always easy for her family, even though she felt a weight had been lifted after her eldest son was diagnosed with ASD, she then had to navigate what to do next, and that was often overwhelming.
“As a parent of a child with autism you do begin to get used to standing out of the crowd or your child being different to the other kids,” she said.
“It can be really hard at first and you almost have to grieve what you thought parenting would be like.
“But I was determined for my son to get all of the same opportunities as every other child in the class room and this is how my passion grew for inclusion in schools for all kids with additional needs,” she said.
Jess says she’s proud to be a part of the Sunshine Coast autism community, an amazing group of people that have such a wonderful spirit.
STEPS run regular free morning teas for parents and carers, alongside a range of programs from educational workshops, social groups, NDIS support coordination and major fundraising events each year. For more information and to secure a dinner booking email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow STEPS Autism Treehouse on Facebook.
The Parent & Carer Social Group Dinner is: Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information.