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At a glance: The help! program
Type of therapy
Family-based intervention
The claim
Helps parents learn more about autism and the support services available
Suitable for
Parents of children aged three or over who have recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Research rating

Find out more about this rating system in our FAQs.

Not yet reviewed by our research sources.
Time

Estimate of the total time for family in hours per week and duration.

0-10 There are several topics covered in this program, and the time commitment is one full day per topic.
Cost

Estimate of cost to family per session/item or week.

The program is not offered in Australia, so there is no information available on costs.
This program isn’t currently available in Australia. It might be offered as part of a service within Australia or in a modified form. Your local autism advisor might be able to help you find out more. There’s information below on programs with a similar aim in Australia.

About this intervention

What is it?
The help! program is a family-based intervention aimed at increasing parents’ knowledge about autism and available support services. The program has several topics, and each topic is presented as a stand-alone, one-day intensive session. Up to 10 parents or carers attend each session.

Who is it for?
The program is for parents or carers of children recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It’s particularly targeted at parents with children aged three or over.

What is it used for?
The program helps parents learn more about autism and the local support services that are available.

Where does it come from?
The help! program was developed in 2001 by a member of staff at the National Autistic Society in the UK. It’s designed to provide parents and full-time carers with information, advice and support.

What is the idea behind it?
The program aims to reduce family stress by giving parents a clear understanding of ASD, including some ideas for positive communication and behaviour management strategies. It also educates parents and carers about their rights, financial support and access to local support services. The idea is that parents will feel less stressed and more confident when they’re given up-to-date information soon after their child’s diagnosis.

What does it involve?
Parents attend day-long, intensive information sessions, and receive a manual and information materials relevant to their child. The various sessions cover:

  • a ‘getting to know you’ introduction
  • information on autism spectrum disorder
  • information on understanding where your child is on the spectrum
  • discussion of communication and social interaction
  • strategies for behaviour support
  • discussion of education, adult life and transitions
  • information on legislation and rights
  • a ‘farewell’.

The National Autistic Society in the UK has also developed modified versions of the program, including one-day, two-day and three-day versions called help! 2 seminars. These are designed for parents who already have a basic understanding of ASD, and cover more specific issues.

Cost considerations
The help! program isn’t offered in Australia, so no information about its costs is available.

Does it work?
This program isn’t a therapy for the child with autism, but an intervention to help parents cope better with their child’s diagnosis. Its effectiveness hasn’t been rated.

Who practises this method?
This program is run by practitioners trained by the National Autistic Society in the UK.

Parent education, training, support and involvement
Parents attend and participate in day-long, intensive information sessions.

Where can I find a practitioner?
This program isn’t offered in Australia. Trained facilitators are currently available only in the UK.

Programs with a similar aim in Australia are:

These programs are provided free of charge for parents through the Helping Children with Autism initiative.

There is also the ACT-NOW project, which focuses on providing professionals with the knowledge to better assist and guide parents of children with ASD.

 
 
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  • Last Updated 20-12-2010
  • Last Reviewed 27-04-2011
  • Bailey, A. (2008). The National Autistic Society help! programme evaluation report. The National Autistic Society. Retrieved on August 19, 2009, from http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1138&a=20108.

    National Autism Center (2009). National standards report: Addressing the need for evidence-based practice guidelines for autism spectrum disorders. Massachusetts: National Autism Center.

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