Strive For Autism Ambassador
It is an honour to accept this position of Ambassador for Strive. This group began in the Hunter Valley around the same time that I did, and I am proud to say that I have supported them through those 10 years. It should not be underestimated how challenging it is to keep a support and education group going month by month, let alone year by year. It takes a great deal of energy and resilience. Strive is now known throughout the Hunter Valley as an impartial resource for families dealing with Autism, and, in these changing times of health care, Strive is a strong voice to raise awareness of Autism within the community and the need for ongoing support.
Kind Regards Anna Behnke
Strive For Autism Ambassador
In 1994 I responded to an advertisement at university to work as a volunteer behavioural therapist for a young girl with autism in Kurri Kurri. This family had engaged a small Sydney based autism specific service to oversee intervention as there was nothing locally. And so, began my career working with clients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families in the Hunter Region.
Soon after I was studying Honours in Psychology and my supervisor proposed that “autism was going to be a growing research field”. At that time there were no ASD specific diagnostic services locally and no support groups or educational services for parents and carer’s. And so, my research in the field of ASD began.
In 2002 a very close family friend had their first child. Soon after his second birthday they were seeking diagnostic and support services for a suspected autism spectrum disorder. For this they travelled to Brisbane, due to the lengthy wait and very limited services in Newcastle and the Hunter Region. It was at this time that I planned to develop a private practice locally, specialising in the field of autism spectrum disorders.
Following further research and study, as well as employment with Hunter New England Health Service and The Children’s Hospital Westmead I opened private practice part time in 2005. This quickly moved to full time, due to the demand for local services for ASD. I have now been involved with the diagnosis and/ or associated interventions for over 2100 children and their families.
I have worked with many clients and their family’s now for over 12 years, watching them grow and supporting them to face their next challenge. In addition to early and ongoing intervention, continuing familial, professional and community supports for the family is critical to produce optional outgoings.
Whilst some local ASD based family support services have come and gone, Strive For Autism has grown from strength to strength directly supporting families, fundraising, advocating and increasing community awareness of ASD. I have been involved with numerous Strive functions over the past ten years and I have worked with dozens of families who have been regularly involved with Strive For Autism. The importance of local supports and education for families facing the ongoing challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorders cannot be emphasised enough.
I would therefore like to congratulate Strive For Autism on their achievements thus far and wish them every success in their ongoing endeavours. I am honoured to be an ambassador and encourage local families to utilise the supports offered through Strive For Autism and support this Hunter based service ongoing.
With best wishes,