How can we help those we are supporting if we don’t get help ourselves particularly when things become complex or overwhelming? Many carers are simply not aware of the supports and services that are available to them in the community. Many others feel unworthy, or unable to access the supports they need.
Different Journeys is funded to support carers and parents of autistic individuals. We create non-judgemental spaces, either online or face to face, for carers of all ages to link with other carers in similar circumstances. We replace isolation and judgement with a supportive community.
All of our ‘lived’ experiences provide lessons about the impacts of caring for Autistic people. Notably, these lessons are supported by the academic literature which states caregivers of Autistic people experience:
- significantly greater stress than caregivers of other children with developmental conditions
- debilitating stigma, including being blamed for their child’s deteriorating development, and often feel judged, excluded, avoided and/or pitied, and
- significant emotional distress and are at risk of experiencing serious mental health conditions.
These negative attitudes towards caregivers can become accepted by them and embedded within their own psychological identity.
At Different Journeys we work to redress the misunderstood and hidden challenges of caring for Autistic people. Our carer education, information and celebration events provide inclusive, safe, and supportive environments in which to provide both peer-based and professional supports.
Our individualised, wrap-around support programs aim to decrease the prevalence of mental illness and social isolation in the carer community. And we seek to enhance carers’ employment and education opportunities.