Lisa Hamling: Treehouse Autism Family Support Group

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Lisa Hamling: Treehouse Autism Family Support Group

Busy Lisa always has time to take a call from anxious parents

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has allowed Treehouse to plan and fund tailored outings for each of the support groups. Individuals and families living with autism often feel isolated, these social outings allow them to connect and share their experiences.

The young adult support group recently enjoyed dinner in St Kilda and a trip to Luna Park. An opportunity the group of 16 young adults aged 18-30 wouldn't otherwise have. Further outings are planned for the coming months, including a night away for families with young children and a night out for parents and carers.

Lisa Hamling is a busy mother but she spends about four hours on the phone every evening.

As the volunteer director of an autism support group, she is often the first person anxious parents turn to after their child is diagnosed.

“A lot of people don’t realise the impact an autism diagnosis has on families,” says Lisa, who also works full-time at a disability service.

Treehouse Autism Family Support Group provides a social network for the families of children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. There are different groups for different age ranges and interests.

Shared experiences such as movie nights, Lego, coffee mornings for mums and a pot and parmi night for the dads helps to reduce isolation and loneliness.

“There’s no judgment — if your child has a meltdown no-one is worried,” says Lisa.

“Others might even hop over and help.”

Lisa started at Treehouse as a volunteer and became the director in 2015 when the founders decided it was time to bow out.

At the same time, the group lost its regular meeting place, so Lisa got on the phone and after many rejections found a home at Access Your Supports, which is now also her employer.

Lisa is known for her compassion and dedication and receives up to four calls a night from parents seeking advice, many referred by local psychologists.

“I tell families it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon so you need to pace yourself a bit.”

A highlight for Lisa was presenting a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into autism services.

“It was fantastic when just about every recommendation was approved.”

Lisa feels honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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