Online advice offers a hand up to children with autism
Canterbury researchers are exploring how web-based support could benefit children on the autism spectrum and their families as demand for services grows.
University of Canterbury Associate Professor Laurie McLay is leading two studies investigating “telehealth” advice for children on the autism spectrum and their families.
She says the number of children diagnosed with autism is growing internationally, with an estimated one in 59 people affected. But, there is a shortage of trained specialists available in Aotearoa New Zealand to provide the support they, and their families, need.
“The significant cost of face-to-face appointments and a lack of trained therapists is a major barrier that’s leading to long wait lists and many children on the autism spectrum having limited access to important services,” Associate Professor McLay says.
The barriers to receiving support particularly impacts families living in regional and Māori and Pacific communities, and the Covid-19 pandemic has made the problem worse.
“There is an urgent need to establish evidence-based, culturally appropriate approaches to service delivery, particularly for those who face barriers to access.”