Understanding Autism

Discover how we can all effect change to empower autistic people and those who make up their support network including families/whānau/carers. 


Browse this section for tips on important aspects about understanding autism.

Discover how we can all effect change to empower autistic people and those who make up their support network including families/whānau/carers.

Understanding Autism for

Understanding Autism Category
  • Children
  • Adults


The sensory differences associated with autism, as well as difficulties with executive function, adapting to change, social pressures, misunderstandings, etc., can contribute to high levels of anxiety, frustration, and confusion for the individual, eventually leading to behaviours that challenge.


The decision parents must make about the educational setting for their child is an important and sometimes difficult one, as there are currently no specialist autism schools in New Zealand. You may qualify for some extra assistance, which will be determined by an assessment from the school.


Autism is considered an invisible disability. Therefore, it may be helpful to make people in your immediate community aware that your loved one is on the autism spectrum.


There are many ways that family/whanau, professionals and other involved people can offer support to the autistic person in their lives.

Taking care of yourself

Children’s meltdowns and expressions of distress can often make parents and caregivers feel stressed, angry, and tired, indirectly affecting relationships with partners, family/whānau, and friends.


No matter where a person sits on the spectrum of neurodiversity, it is part of human nature to want friends, someone who knows and understands us, who can share in highs and lows.


Autistic adults have much to offer a workplace; yet, more than a third of autistic people are unemployed. This is more than three times the rate for people with disability and almost eight times the rate for people without disability.*


Support with living costs – Work and Income (WINZ)

Taking care of yourself

Good mental health and well-being are key aspects of the way that we live, work and play. Autistic people may experience higher mental health conditions and can have lower resilience to stress.

Understanding Autism for