What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that impacts on social communication, social interaction and restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviours.

People on the Autism Spectrum form a diverse community that will engage with their environments and interact with others in unique ways. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) state that the current prevalencerate of people on the autism spectrum in Australia is an estimated 1 in every 70 people (Public Health Agency of Canada; May, Sciberras, Brignell, Williams et al.., 2016).

About This Project

This website is the product of a pilot project on Autism Friendly Communities and has been set up to provide you with SERVICE principles that will guide you through ways of making low or no cost modifications to your space and service to be more autism friendly.

To participate in this pilot project:

  1. Use the tabs at the top of the page to explore the SERVICE principles of autism friendly practice, best practice and things to avoid in your environment.
  2. Complete the audit form to indicate what efforts you have made to become more autism friendly
  3. If you are in the 2518 post code display your Autism Friendly Badge
  4. Make continuous and considered efforts to implement the SERVICE principles.

The pilot project will run for 12 months after which an evaluation will take place.

What is an Autism Friendly Badge?

An Autism Friendly Badge is a symbol of commitment to act on as many of the SERVICE principles as possible for your environment on a daily basis.

What is an Autism Friendly Community

An Autism Friendly Community (AFCo) is a collective of businesses, services, organisations, and individuals that aim to create accessible and supportive spaces that enable people on the autism spectrum and their families to engage meaningfully in community and daily living activities.

An AFCo is one that understands that diversity enriches culture, community life, and business opportunities. Autism Friendly businesses aim to be inclusive of each member of the community by providing flexible ways of engaging with the environment, maintaining manageable sensory stimuli and engaging in non-judgemental and meaningful interactions with individuals.

An Autism Friendly Community allows options for user control of the environment whenever practical, provides visually clear instructions on how to engage with the space, and engages in supportive, non-intrusive service delivery.

Why Participate

Making small, low or no cost changes to your business or service can be the difference between a successful outing and a distressing one to a person on the autism spectrum. Too many questions, too many sounds, too much visual confusion, too many changes, or too much unpredictability can all cause incredible distress to a person with autism. Applying the SERVICE principles to your practice means that you are clarifying the environment, increasing the consistency and providing supportive interactions that use visuals and patience. With 1 in 70 people on the autism spectrum in Australia becoming more autism friendly will have a positive impact on the individual, their family and building an inclusive community. The best part is that being autism friendly is helpful to everyone from those with Dementia to busy parents and Culturally And Linguistically Diverse community members. Autism Friendly practice helps people understand what to expect and what options they have for how they can engage with the space and that makes happier customers! Being Autism Friendly is just good business!

To get a sense of what it may be like for some people on the autism spectrum to go into a typical shopping centre you can watch this video, “Too Much Information” by the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom


Want to do more?

Should you be interested in opportunities for specific training, professional development and education, and individualised support you can contact the Autism Friendly Australia Initiative. Contact details can be found by clicking the button below. You can also contact Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) who can provide training and specific environmental audits.

References and Examples of Other Friendly Communities

General Disclaimer

This website is part of a pilot project to provide guidance on applying principles of autism friendliness. Each business or service provider may apply the principles differently and may not adhere to all principles, they will use the information found in the website at their own discretion. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), the University of Wollongong and the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce provide no education, training, or verification of implementation of the principles of autism friendliness. In no way do the above organisations endorse any business or business practices of those that choose to participate in the Autism Friendly Community Initiative. The display of an Autism Friendly Community Badge is a symbol of commitment to the initiative and does not represent an accreditation or standard of practice. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), The University of Wollongong, and the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce disclaims any liability for any injury or loss arising from use of this website.

On the lands that we work, we walk and we live, we acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians and cultural knowledge holders of these lands.