It took sinking to an all time low before one Springfield Lakes mother decided to take a stand and help families of kids living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After trying to find the right school for her autistic son Ben, Danielle Butcher was bitterly disappointed when several schools advised they were unable to support him and his needs.
Mrs Butcher said it was a devastating time for the entire family but it was also the catalyst for creating ASD Review, a website dedicated to reviewing and rating services for ASD families.
“I was looking for schools for my son to start prep and did lots of research and found a school that I thought was going to be really good for him, but after they did an assessment, I got a letter from them saying they couldn’t support his needs,” Mrs Butcher said.
“So I went to another private school and he did a trial there and again we were told that they couldn’t support his needs, so that was absolutely devastating being told that your preferred school would not support you.
“I then decided that it was a situation that I didn’t want any other family of a special needs kid to go through, so that drove me to create ASD Review to ensure people had the right information to make informed choices.”
ASD Review officially launched last week and is the first website of its kind in Australia to allow reviews of businesses and services such as therapists, early learning centres as well as lifestyle and travel.
Mrs Butcher said her aim was to eventually grow the site so that every type of ASD relevant service was listed and to empower people with more choices. She said it was also a good way of keeping businesses accountable and to highlight how ASD products and services was a growing market and increasingly in demand.
“It’s not just about schools or therapy but access to all sorts of things like sporting groups, social groups, hairdressers, shopping centres with autism-friendly shopping hours to travel and accommodation services,” Mrs Butcher said.
“What we’re hoping to do is build enough people in our database to offer special discounts for families with ASD children so they can get discounts off an autism friendly holiday for example because you just can’t get that at the moment.
“You can feel so alone during the whole process and it can be very isolating, particularly in the diagnosis stage and when you’re new to the journey, you often don’t know where to turn or what to access or what your child needs for help.
“This way families can see what is out there and it also means businesses have to put their money where their mouth is.”
For more information about ASD Review, visit the website.