Social workers for people with autism
What is a social worker?
Social workers support families and individuals who are facing challenges or are struggling to cope in their everyday lives.
A social worker is a university-trained allied health professional who is skilled at identifying an issue that requires change – ranging in severity from domestic violence, mental health and homelessness, to financial problems, illness, disability or injury.
Social workers understand the complexity of the government health and social service system and the assistance that is available to families. They are also well connected with non-government agencies and services, and private health providers.
How can social workers help people with autism?
A social worker that specialises in autism is often employed by a government agency, disability agency or self-help group to provide assistance and support to parents, children and adults with autism.
Social workers are trained in complex problem solving, as well as counselling, monitoring wellbeing and family support.
If you suspect you or someone you love has autism, or if you are undergoing the early stages of assessment, the diagnostic process can be challenging, as such it’s important to seek support where possible.
Social workers operate as a trusted friend or family member might – assisting you with filling out forms and paperwork, advocating on your behalf with doctors and specialists, seeking out information, and putting you in touch with specialist agencies and services.
Social workers offer a broad range of services to people with autism and parents and carers of autistic children, including:
Undertaking personal and family counselling, or arranging therapy services through a relevant professional.
Accumulating and presenting easy to understand information about relevant support services and options.
Helping you or your family to coordinate various specialists and health professional appointments, arranging travel and accommodation and managing care and respite.
Acting as a personal representative and counsel for you or your family when dealing with complex government and community services.
Linking parents and families with agencies and programs that can help them in times of need.
A school social worker can assist where assessment is required to support a child with behavioral and social challenges. They can also assist children with autism to build relationships with other students.
Social workers can be skilled at bringing together people with similar life challenges and facilitating group sessions that provide support and understanding.
Social workers have access to government agencies and not for profits that may be able to assist families who are having trouble staying on top of their finances.
How do social workers provide their services?
Social workers may be assigned to you by your GP or service provider, and will usually undertake an initial assessment before recommending a course of action. This could include individual one-on-one counselling sessions, family support and group sessions, or school visits.
Where do social workers practice?
Social workers are often employed by government or non-government agencies. These include community health centres, hospitals, family services, schools and disability services.
Social workers may also be employed by not for profit organisations and charities, and may have their own private practices, or a multi-disciplinary agency with other allied health professionals.
What training do social workers undertake?
Professional social workers must complete a four-year undergraduate university degree, or a two-year Master’s degree after considerable work experience in a related field.
Social workers must also meet the requirements of the Australian Association of Social Workers and comply with the Code of Ethics and Practice Standards. However, they may or may not be registered depending on their employment arrangements.
Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW) acquire additional specialist training and skills in assisting people with diagnosed mental health conditions and other conditions such as autism.
Social Work is a self-regulated profession.
What does a social worker cost?
Some government and not-for-profit social workers are provided at no charge or a small fee. Social workers generally charge a rate based on experience and specialisation. This can be between $60 – $280 per hour.
Social workers are an approved service under the NDIS. For more information about funding eligibility visit our financial services page.
For more detailed information about social workers, and social work services for people with autism, visit the Australian Association of Social Workers website.