Autism specific parenting programmes

November 17, 2016


Liliya John, a researcher at Altogether Autism, compiled this information. If you would like to add to this or see an error, please email

Altogether Autism

Altogether Autism provides information on autism parenting courses held throughout the regions and has regional Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) coordinators working at district health boards.

Autism NZ

Autism specific training programmes for parents/family/whānau offered by Autism NZ are:

  • EarlyBird– Implementing early intervention strategies for a child not yet attending school

EarlyBird is an early intervention programme for parents/whānau/ caregivers, which is specific to the needs of children on the Autism Spectrum. The three-month programme combines group training sessions with individual home visits. Video feedback is used to help participants apply what they learn. Currently, this programme is offered free at West Auckland residents. Autism NZ cover all costs for this programme.

Learning Outcomes:

The EarlyBird Programme will help participants to:

  • Understand their child’s autism
  • Develop interaction and communication with their child
  • Manage their child’s behaviour.

Who is it for?

  • Parents/caregivers/whānau supporting a young child (not yet in full-time education) with diagnosis or probable diagnosis of autism
  • Up to two parents/caregivers from each family/whānau may attend the programme
  • The family/whānau must live within one hour travelling distance from Auckland and Wellington, as home visits are part of the programme.
  • FANZ (Framework for Autism in New Zealand)

FANZ is a two-day introductory programme about autism that enables participants to create a framework for understanding and supporting a person with autism. The programme is available in various locations including Waikato, Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga, Upper Hutt and Wanganui etc. The cost per person for family/whanau is $50.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will learn to:

  • Understand autism and identify how it may present in the person with autism
  • Use practical strategies to interact and support the person with autism e.g. use of visual supports, write stories for understanding, and teach new activities
  • Support the person with autism in a variety of settings
  • Prevent/reduce and better manage challenging behaviour.

Who is it for?

FANZ is specifically designed for family/whānau/caregivers, educators, health professionals, and anyone involved with a child or adult on the Autism Spectrum, who wants a further understanding about autism and practical strategies, to enhance the lives and maximise the learning opportunities of those with autism.

Way to play- Playing joyously with a child on the Autism Spectrum

Way to Play is a one-day introduction to playing with children on the Autism Spectrum. Playing with a child with autism can be challenging, so the Way to Play workshop offers simple, easy to use strategies to begin playing joyously together.

The cost is $20 per person for family/whānau/caregivers.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will learn to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the importance of play for a young child with autism
  • Use simple play strategies such as pretend play, playing with toys and being a guide
  • Identify methods of play such as, pattern, memory, variation and interrupting
  • Set play goals
  • Identify their role in playing with a young child
  • Identify the style of play that best suits the child.

Who is it for?

Way to Play is specifically designed for parents/caregivers/whānau, health and education professionals, and anyone directly involved with a young child on the Autism Spectrum, who want some practical strategies for how to play in fun and exciting ways together.

For more information on Early Bird, FANZ and Way to Play contact      Autism NZ on 0800 288 476 or via email


Children’s Autism Foundation

Children’s Autism Foundation offers unique services to guide, support and provide practical, family-centred solutions to parents with children on the spectrum. The services offered are:

  • Family Outreach Support

This programme is a holistic ‘hands on’ outreach service, led by the family’s priorities and values with guidance from a trained and experienced staff member. Families can access this service when their child has been recently diagnosed with autism, it is also available during difficult transition periods.

Intensity of a family’s involvement depends on their specific needs, such as regular home visits, phone calls, as well as providing guidance in implementing strategies and concepts learned at workshops.

  • Workshops

Children’s Autism Foundation also provide the following workshops throughout the Auckland area.

  • Strategies for behaviour
  • Understanding autism
  • Dealing with anxiety
  • Sensory processing
  • Social and friendship skills.

For more information about Family Support and Workshops contact or phone 04 803 3501.



Explore Specialist Advice is the national provider of the following services:

  • Behaviour Support
  • Parent education and support programmes for families who have a child or young person with a diagnosis of autism.

These programmes are funded by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and are free to eligible people, their family’s and support people.

Behaviour Support

If you or someone you care about or support is showing signs of challenging behaviour, Explore Specialist Advice can help.

People who have an autism diagnosis and are presenting with behaviour that is challenging are eligible for this service through a NASC referral.  Early Intervention Pathway

The Early Intervention Pathway supports parents/caregivers to further develop their awareness and skills children in positive parenting, so that they can to become confident and capable parents. The early support provided to family/ whānau and their support networks aims to help parents/caregivers to use positive parenting strategies to prevent the escalation of problem behaviours.

Behaviour Support

Explore does a comprehensive assessment so theycan understand the reasons for the behaviour and determine what support strategies are most likely to be effective in supporting change and improved quality of life.

Explore’s autism programmes

Eligible families can self-refer directly into these programmes by:

  1. Calling 0800 000 421 Emailing Explore to request information and a referral form :
  2. Ask someone to do this for you e.g. service coordinator at NASC,  developmental/autism coordinator

ASD Plus

This programme is available to parents, family/ whānau and caregivers of a young child  (aged 0-6 years) with a diagnosis of autism.  The programme supports participants to better understand the way in which their child thinks, learns and experiences the world.  It aims to introduce participants to a range of practical strategies that support positive interactions and skill development.

Teen Life

The Teen Life programme aims to empower parents and supporting professionals to understand more about how autism is experienced by autistic teenagers. It creates opportunities to discuss useful strategies and share ideas to support people with autism through their teen years.  Parents/caregivers can elect to have a professional accompany them in the programme but this not compulsory and is restricted to one person.  It is available to parents and care givers of a young person aged 10 and 15 years, who has an autism diagnosis.


Ministry of Education

The Incredible Years Autism programme offered by the Ministry of Education is a 14 session group-based programme for parents of children aged 2-5 on the autism spectrum.

The programme covers

  • Child-directed narrated play promotes positive relationships
  • Pre-academic and persistance coaching promotes language development and school readiness
  • Social coaching promotes friendship skills
  • Emotion coaching promotes emotional literacy
  • Pretend play empathy and social skills
  • Promoting children’s self-regulation skills
  • Using praise and rewards to motivate children
  • Limit setting and behaviour management

Incredible Years Autism is a highly interactive, collaborative, self-directed programme that is driven by the child’s developmental abilities and goals and is available in: Whanagrei, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Invercargill.

For more information contact your regions provider – listed here.



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