Informing and Empowering New Zealand Parents of Autistic Children With Increased Access to Information on the Effectiveness and Behavior Analytic Interventions

By Angelika Anderson, 2022 awardee of a Public Awareness Grant

Behavior analysis has long been a strong academic discipline in New Zealand. Recently there has been a decline in the availability of ABA services in the community to address important problems and in particular in meeting the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Misinformation and disinformation about ABA are widespread in the New Zealand community and have contributed to this decline. Trustworthy New Zealand based information about the benefits of ABA is hard to find, but critical in the multicultural context of this country. Indigenous populations in particular highly value local and culturally relevant information.

This SABA grant will support an information campaign to address this issue by providing and disseminating local, culturally relevant, and accessible information in two ways:

  • Developing and disseminating brief plain-language messages or information bites (in English and Te Reo Māori) and videos illustrating the real-life benefits of ABA.
  • Supporting parents of children with autism to form a self-help / lobby group.

The short-term outcome will be an increase in accessible information about the benefits of ABA for all kinds of populations including autistic individuals and their families. The parent group will be provided with support for their activities, including lobbying. Long term this should lead to increased demand for services, and ultimately increased availability of services.

We expect the project to have impact beyond the funding period in that social media sites will be maintained, and the parent self-help and lobby group will continue to thrive.

The funding will directly support three students including at least one Māori student currently enrolled in a behavior analysis program with a small stipend and by providing them with the opportunity to work alongside senior academics.

Angelika Anderson is an Associate Professor and the director of the behavior analysis program at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her main interests include promoting evidence-based practices and reducing the research to practice gap by engaging with local stakeholders. She previously worked at Monash University, where she established the first Verified Course Sequence in all of Australia just prior to moving to New Zealand.

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