You helped us adapt and do things differently when 2020 brought instability and uncertainty.
I want to thank you for playing your part in our goal to create a world where no one on the autism spectrum is left behind. Thank you for donating, attending workshops, being part of our community, following us on social media, and reading our stories.
When the pandemic hit and we could no longer deliver face-to-face support, you helped us roll out Aspect Anywhere and change the way we deliver services. Within just a month of the COVID-19 lockdowns, we were able to deliver distance education to all our students and therapy with our expert staff to all of our clients.
The economic effects of COVID-19 hit our Aspect families especially hard but thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to raise over $1 million towards our Coronavirus Crisis fund to support families facing financial difficulty.
As you may be aware, routine and structure are vital for people on the autism spectrum and being there for our community during such a time of upheaval makes me very proud.
Our Autism Friendly team continued to make progress to develop better communities for Autistic people. We worked with public transport authorities to develop autism-friendly transport and created ‘hidden disability’ guidelines for the Australian Airports Association.
As travel re-opens throughout 2021, we will continue to work with airports across the country on a range of strategies that will help not only Autistic people, but anyone who may find flying anxiety-provoking or stressful.
I’m also proud of the way we championed diversity and inclusion more than ever last year. We developed a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan which gives us the roadmap for how we support our staff with disabilities as well as how we provide inclusive services and programs. We strive to be an organisation that is inclusive to all people of every ability, gender, race and identity.
Then of course there are the incredible transformations you helped make possible for children on the autism spectrum by supporting our Aspect schools. Six-year-old Ava, for example, started school neither communicating nor interacting with her classmates and family.
Within a few months, her bright and bubbly personality was shining at school and at home thanks to her tailored education. You can learn more about her story here.
It’s just incredible to hear outcomes like these and I know there is a powerful story of transformation for each of the 1,187 students in our Aspect schools and satellite classes across Australia.
Throughout 2020, we were able to provide Aspect School Sponsorships to children in need thanks to the amazing support of our community. You can learn more about the positive impact of a school sponsorship in the video below.
As we look to the future, we have big plans for 2021 including upgrading and building more Aspect schools, increasing our reach to students through more distance education, and continuing ground-breaking practice research with our Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice – including studies aiming to improve opportunities for Autistic people.
We have achieved all of this and so much more during the most challenging year in our history.
And we could not have done it without you.
Thank you from all of us at Aspect for your continued support. Together we can help every person on the autism spectrum live a fulfilled and supported life and achieve long-term wellbeing.
My very best wishes for a happy 2021 to you and your family.
P.S. I would like to invite you to read a short piece written by Thomas Kuzma, Aspect's Engagement Officer and Social Mentor. Thomas, who is on the autism spectrum, did not have an easy time when he was growing up. He was bullied through school and didn't understand why his peers treated him differently. Now, as an autistic adult, he is a confident, engaging young man and I am proud to work alongside him. I encourage you to read his letter here.