Merrin Ayton

Co-Founder/Senior Peer Event Support

Merrin Ayton has been a passionate advocate for the Autistic community over the last 21 years and cares for two young adults on the spectrum. Her Autism journey began when her eldest son was diagnosed in 2001. Merrin has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the needs of the Autistic teen and adult to the wider community. As Merrin navigated her way through the maze of early intervention programs, health professionals, therapists, both the public and private education systems she quickly realised how difficult the journey could be, the limitations of many of the programs on offer and the lack of supported social activities available for her boys to participate in. For seven years, Merrin held various positions on the Irabina Childhood Autism Services board of directors. Merrin has worked in secondary education for over twenty five years, specialising in maths and science. Her teaching experience has enabled her to work with her fellow educators to share her knowledge and understanding of the Autistic student’s needs.

In 2023, Merrin resigned her position in education to work with Different Journeys as a Senior Carer Peer Support Officer.  In this mentoring role, Merrin walks beside the carer and supports them to navigate the complex maze of the service system including the NDIS, Medical and Health systems, Allied Health, education and Centrelink.  Merrin is the conduit, using Different Journeys connections and partnerships, she can link the carers to new support services, help them to access Allied Health therapists, access support when applying for the NDIS and provide 1:1 support to write applications for the Disability Support Pension, Carer’s Payment and Carer’s Allowance.  Merrin also provides carer supports at Different Journeys events.

In 2016, the co-founders Merrin and Mel’s dream for an Autistic friendly event where teens could meet, share their ideas, find a tribe and hang out, like their peers was held. In her role as a director on the Different Journeys Board, Merrin’s vision is the continue to raise awareness of the needs of the Autistic individual, their families and carers. To work with service agencies and the government to improve the pathways that will help our autistic community to be better connected and feel empowered. Being part of the Different Journeys community will enable our Autistic community to achieve success, provide opportunities to be connected and have fulfilling lives.