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Media release: World’s first living guideline for autism developed in Aotearoa

The world’s first living guideline for autism has been developed in New Zealand/Aotearoa to provide advice on how to help autistic people live full and meaningful lives.

Aotearoa New Zealand Autism Guideline – He Waka Huia Takiwātanga Rau is intended for use by primary care practitioners, education professionals, service providers, policymakers, funders, specialists, carers, and autistic people/tāngata whaitakiwātanga and their families and whānau.

Dr Andrew Marshall from the Paediatric Society of New Zealand/Te Kāhui Mātai Arotamariki o Aotearoa says, “Members of the Paediatric Society were part of the writing group of the 1st edition published in 2006, and have been involved in updating the Guideline ever since. We are promoting the newly released third edition of the Guideline as part of World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April.

“We hope the Guideline will create a better understanding of how to empower people with autism to live full lives and will be widely used by everyone supporting people on the autism spectrum, particularly teachers, carers, families and whānau.”

He says, “Areas covered in the Guideline include assessment and diagnosis, support for individuals and families, education, mental health and wellbeing, living in the community, professional development, Māori and Pasifika perspectives.

“A key intent of the document was to capture the individual and collective voices and experiences of those on the autism spectrum, and these feature in the Guideline.”

Dr Marshall says, “This document is the world’s first ‘living guideline’ for autism. That means it is updated on a yearly basis by a Living Guidelines Group, of which I am a co-chair. This will allow us to capture new evidence and be more responsive to the needs of autistic people in this rapidly evolving field.

“The development of the 3rd Edition of the Guideline was led by Whaikaha/Ministry of Disabled People in partnership with the Ministry of Education but also involved the collaborative effort of researchers, clinicians, educators, community service providers, and other government agencies.

“The Guideline also provides a framework for improving services for people with autism, based on robust and reliable information. A recent international review of Autism Guidelines in use around the world rated the NZ guideline very highly for quality, and it was the only Guideline to be recommended for use without modifications.”

“As well as the Guidelines, our KidsHealth website also has some easy to understand information on autism for parents and caregivers atātanga.”