AROUND 130,000 AUSTRALIANS live with Asperger's and high functioning autism (HFA), meaning that they have a diagnosis of autism without intellectual disability.
Approximately 97,000 of these Australians are men and women, aged 18 years and over, who experience the daily challenges of a largely overlooked, misunderstood, and yet highly complex and nuanced disability.
WE BELONG is an Australian first study which investigates the life experiences, aspirations and service and support needs of these Australian adults.
"I believe that as a person who is perceived as 'high functioning', others tend to downplay my difficulties because they are not as obvious. I tend to fall between the cracks regarding services - I'm not seen as requiring assistance, when in reality I do."
Jenny, aged 29, WA
This microsite and video series was developed with funding assistance from the NSW Government through Ageing, Disability & Home Care (ADHC), Department of Family & Community Services to give a voice to people with AD and HFA - a group who have been ignored and isolated for far too long.
WE BELONG was conducted by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) using a survey methodology to profile the experiences, needs and aspirations of a sample of adults with AD and HFA across a broad range of life domains.
The study’s goal is to raise awareness, promote discussion and pave the way for change regarding the services and supports that are essential to improved outcomes.
"I don't feel like the daily struggles of adults with Asperger's are well understood. I fight through (and hide, as best I can) a relentless struggle. I often feel like I just can't keep going."
Miriam, aged 30, NSW
WE BELONG makes it clear that the 97,000 Australian adults with AD and HFA have the same goals and aspirations, including being part of everyday life, as do other Australians. They want fulfilling employment, opportunities to have a range of successful social relationships, and to pursue their leisure interests, including by participating and contributing to local community activities.
The study gives this talented group of people the chance to have their say about the awareness, services and support they need to achieve their goals and aspirations.
WE BELONG is their story.