Explore Autism Services


The community response to COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we wish to reassure families that their safety and wellbeing is our priority.  We will continue to deliver services in a way that aligns with the Ministry of Health’s recommendations but recognise that this may require us to change our approach at short notice.

If you would prefer not to meet face to face, we will work with you to agree how you would prefer to receive our services.

In response to COVID-19, we’re offering immediate expert advice and support to anyone who is eligible for disability support services or anyone who cares for or supports someone who is eligible for this service. For immediate behavioural support over phone or video Click here 

Explore Autism Services

Explore offers Exploring Autism, Teen Life and Targeted Parent Support.

Through these programmes, Explore supports parents to understand autism, build on existing strengths and knowledge and develop new skills to support their child in daily life.

Exploring Autism (0-9 Years)

Exploring Autism is a programme for parents, caregivers, families and whānau of children with a recent diagnosis of autism and is available throughout New Zealand at no charge to participants.

The programme is available to families with a child aged between 0-5  years and to families with a child aged 6-9 years. The programme content covers core topics with adaptations and additional content appropriate to each age group.

Through the programme, we work with you to continue to grow your understanding of autism and your child. The programme provides information and practical strategies that you can use in everyday life. It introduces a range of services and supports that are available in New Zealand for children with autism as well as websites and resources that you may find useful.

Who can attend?

Parents and caregivers of a child aged 0-9 years (up to 10th birthday) who have a recent autism diagnosis.

The programme

The programme is comprised of 6 sessions, covering the following topics

  • Introduction to autism
  • Social communication
  • Sensory processing
  • Thinking and learning
  • Supporting stress, anxiety and behaviour
  • Next steps – into the future

The programme is mostly provided through group sessions so that families have the opportunity to connect and to learn with and from each other.

Individual follow up sessions are available to support families to apply their learning to their own child and home situation.

The programme can also be provided individually for a family or whānau group where this suits the situation best. This might involve home visits and/or video conferencing.

How can I apply?

Parents & caregivers can do this by:

  1.  Download and complete the referral form, and emailing this to explore@explore.org.nz.
  2. Calling 0800 605 001 and asking one of our team to complete the referral for you.
  3. Asking someone to do this for you e.g. service coordinator at NASC, developmental coordinator or autism coordinator.

Teen Life (Young person aged 10 – 15 years)

The Teen Life programme aims to empower parents and supporting professionals to understand more about how autism is experienced by autistic teenagers. It creates opportunities to discuss useful strategies and share ideas to support people with autism through their teen years.  Parents/caregivers can elect to have a professional accompany them in the programme but this not compulsory and is restricted to one person.

The programme is funded by the Ministry of Health. There is no cost to participants.

Who can attend?

Parents/caregivers of an autistic child aged between 10 and 15 (up to 16th birthday). Up to two family members and a supporting professional can attend (with parental permission)

The programme

The programme is comprised of 6 group sessions, covering the following topics:

Session 1 Autism in teenagers
Hidden presentation in women and girls
The autistic perspective
Session 2 Self-esteem

Spending time with other people

Session 3 Stress and anxiety

Understanding behaviour

Session 4 Understanding your diagnosis

Understanding intense interests

Managing expectation

Session 5 Puberty

Independence skills

Session 6 Education

Planning for the future


How can I apply?

Parents & caregivers can do this by:

1. Selecting a programme from the schedule below and then doing one of the following:
2. Download and complete the referral form as a PDF or as a Word document. Remember to specify the programme you wish to attend from the calendar and email this to explore@explore.org.nz.
3. Calling 0800 605 001 and asking one of our team to complete the referral for you
4. Ask someone to do this for you e.g. Service coordinator at NASC,  Developmental/autism coordinator

We can only accommodate a maximum of 6 families per programme and places will be allocated on a first received basis. We need a minimum of four families to be able to run the programme and may need to postpone delivery if we do not receive enough referrals.

Click on your area below to find what programmes are scheduled near you:



Location Day Dates Times
Rosedale Programme full
Papatoetoe Programme full
Papatoetoe Programme full
Henderson Programme full
Penrose Wednesady 24 February – 31 March 2021 6:00pm – 8:00pm for six weeks
Albany Thursday 25 February – 1 April 2021 10:00am -12:00pm for six weeks

North Island


Location Day Dates Times
Whanganui Programme full
New Plymouth Programme full
Wellington – Kapiti Programme full
Wellington – Hataitai Programme full
Hawera Wednesday 11 November – 25 November 2020 10:00am to 3:00pm weekly for 3 weeks
Whakatane Cancelled
Palmerston North Tuesday 3 November -17 November 2020 10:30am to 3:30pm weekly for 3 weeks
Wellington – Petone Programme full
Hastings Programme full
New Plymouth Programme full
Hamilton Programme full
Hamilton Monday 15 March – 29 March 2021 10:00am – 1:30pm for three weeks
Tauranga – Mount Maunagnui Tuesday 2 February – 9 March 2021 10:30am – 12:30pm for six weeks
Wellington – Tawa Monday 15 February – 22 March 2021 5:30pm – 7:30pm for six weeks
Wellington – Hataitai Tuesday 16 February – 23 March 2021 10:00am – 12:00pm for six weeks
New Plymouth Thursday 4 March – 18 March 2021 9:30am -12:30pm for three weeks

South Island


Location Day Dates Times
Christchurch – Burnside Programme full
Christchurch – Halswell Programme full
Richmond Programme full
Dunedin Programme full
Cromwell Programme full
Dunedin Programme full
Oamaru Programme full
Christchurch – Lincoln Programme full
Richmond Programme full
Gore Wednesday 28 October – 11 November 2020 9:30am -2:30pm for three weeks
Dunedin Thursday 21 January – 4 February 2021 10:00am -2:30pm for three weeks
Blenheim Thursday 11 February – 25 February 2021 10:00am 0 3:00pm for three weeks
Christchurch – Lincoln Wednesday 24 February – 31 March 2021 11:00am – 1:00pm for six weeks
Invercargill Wednesday 10 March – 24 March 2021 10:00am – 2:30pm for three weeks


Remote Delivery Teen Life Programmes (Online)

Location Day Dates Times
Remote Delivery Programme Tuesday 16th February 2021- 23rd March 2021 1:00pm -3:00pm for six weeks

Targeted Parent Support (0-19th birthday)

This is a brief intervention programme, comprising up to seven family contacts and aims to support families to focus on a specific area associated with their child’s autism diagnosis.  The programme is primarily aimed at supporting skill development and is not intended for children and young people who need specific and targeted support in relation to challenging behaviour.

This support works best when focused on a specific issue or area of development, for example:

  • Planning for successful transitions
  • Introducing strategies to support social understanding
  • Understanding and managing sensory differences
  • Teaching a new skill or routine

Where  multiple referrals are received to different Explore programmes, Explore will review all referrals and make a decision about the best service fit given the information received and proceed with 1 referral.

Who can access this programme?

Families who have a child/young person aged between 0 and 18 years with an autism diagnosis.

Please note that families will need to have capacity to meet regularly over a 3 – 4 month period.

How do I access these programmes?

Referrals can be made through a specialist such as an ASD coordinator, paediatrician, psychiatrist, psychologist or your NASC coordinator.

Specialists can request a referral form by emailing a request to explore@explore.org.nz.