For those living on the autism spectrum, navigating through a sometimes unaccommodating world can pose major challenges.

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Autism Society NWT says the system is ‘difficult to navigate’ when looking at what is available; now they’re making that a whole lot easier.

On Monday, the society launched a navigation tool kit they say will help families and professionals supporting people with autism, along with those on the spectrum themselves.

The kit is simple; it lays out available resources for those on the spectrum at different stages of the person’s life, and how to support them best.

“It starts from the first minute a family or a person may suspect somebody may be on the spectrum straight through to the end of life,” explained the society’s president Denise McKee.

“[The navigation kit shows] the supports and the different things that may come up, and all the different resources and ways to be able to access them throughout their lifespan.”

The system is so difficult to navigate

Navigating Autism Across the Lifespan is meant to help guide those working with people on the spectrum, from loved ones to professionals, through every step of that person’s life.

Autism Society NWT vice-president Alannis McKee during the tool’s launch Monday afternoon.

“The system is so difficult to navigate,” McKee said.

“[Families are] not sure what is actually available, they’re not even sure how to ask for things and what they can ask for and what they should be expecting.

“This kit really helps to have at each one of those points, for people to be able to take a look at that and say ‘Oh, okay I never really considered this and this is something that’s exactly what I’m looking for’.”

The kit is also being introduced to professionals in wrap-around services who encounter people on the spectrum.

“If autism isn’t your only focus, you might not be aware of all the things that may be able to support them,” said McKee.

“Everything from funding on a national level to territorial to municipal things, from recreation to education to housing, all those components are put in there.”

Available online

The 45 page booklet was created by Autism Society NWT vice-president Alannis McKee. The society gets a number of calls from families with autistic children, and she says there was a great need for a kit like this in the territory.

“The majority of people calling are asking ‘What is available to my family?’,” she told Moose FM.

“There’s a disconnect between families and service providers where if they aren’t professional researchers, they don’t know what they can access, and they don’t know how to do it.

“This offers them a way that’s written in a user-friendly fashion that gives them a background on what can you actually expect, and what will this look like in a way that’s understandable.”

The navigation tool is similar to two wandering and travel tool kits released by the society a few years ago.

You can find either of these tools on Autism Society NWT’s website. The navigation tool will eventually be released on their website as well.

For now, anyone interested in the navigation kit is asked to email info@nwtautismsociety.org.