National Autism Spectrum Disorder Support – what services are available?

Sean Vesteegh is a specialist advisor and clinical psychologist for Explore Specialist Advice NZ

18 October 2017 – EXPLORE SPECIALIST Advice (Explore) took over the national contract for education services for families of children and young people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) earlier this year.

As well as providing ASD services, Explore is the national provider of behaviour support services for people with disabilities who experience challenging behaviour.

Explore prides itself on providing quality, flexible services and educational programmes that are based on positive support frameworks and evidence-based best practice.

Its services and programmes are delivered by registered health professionals, including psychologists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, social workers and other behaviour specialists with experience in the sector.

Explore’s ASD programmes

Programmes are arranged into three levels to suit the specific needs of a family / caregiver who has a child with ASD. The levels provide a clear needs-based pathway, from Parent Education and Support to intense Behaviour Support services.

All programmes are flexible to meet the specific needs of each family, are based on best practice and on New Zealand’s ASD guidelines, and are provided free of charge throughout New Zealand, including in rural and remote locations.

Level 1: Parent Education and Support:

  • ASD+ programme (under 7 years)
  • The ASD+ programme is for parents and caregivers who have children recently diagnosed with autism.
  • It is designed to increase parent/caregiver knowledge about common challenges children with ASD face such as communication, behaviour, stress and learning styles.
  • The programme helps parents/caregivers identify ways of supporting a child with these challenges. ASD+ includes seven modules that can be delivered in a group session or individually. You can also access the ASD+ programme remotely.

Parents can refer themselves to this programme by contacting Explore to make a direct referral (0800 000 421), or by contacting your ASD Coordinator, Health Professional within Child Development Services, Early Childhood Education Services or your NASC Coordinator.

Level 2: Targeted Parent Support 

The Targeted Parent Support programme aims to strengthen parents/caregivers’ skills to manage specific difficulties their child may be experiencing as a result of autism.

Working with an Explore specialist, parents/caregivers learn skills to manage their child’s particular challenges such as social communication, understanding relationships, understanding strong emotions, coping with change, managing sensory sensitivities, everyday activities and routines like mealtimes, sleep and toileting.

For a referral to this programme contact your ASD Coordinator, Paediatrician within Child Health Service, a qualified professional (psychologist, psychiatrist with ASD experience and expertise) or your NASC Coordinator.

Level 3: Behaviour Support Services

Behaviour Support services are tailored to a child/young person’s individual needs where their challenging behavior has a significant impact on their life.

Working with an Explore specialist, parents/caregivers will learn skills to help reduce the impact of the challenging behaviour.

  • For a referral to the Behaviour Support Service please contact your local NASC.

  • For more information you can also contact Explore on 0800 000 421 or visit

  • Explore is part of HealthCare NZ, one of New Zealand’s most experienced providers of community-based health, disability and rehabilitation support services.


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