In the beginning…
In April 2017, Code Blue for Autism was founded in Brisbane, Queensland by Helen and Dr. Michael Whelan, parents of a young man on the autism spectrum. Following diagnosis (Connor was diagnosed on his second birthday), Helen and Michael explored what the world of autism was like, both in Australia and worldwide. They embarked on an intensive early intervention program in their home in tandem with the triple threat of speech, occupational, and physio therapies. To ensure no stone was left unturned, they researched and implemented a range of dietary interventions and an audio/sensory integration program. They incorporated both special education and mainstream settings for socialisation.
On completion of year 12, they and fellow parents asked the question… School has finished, now what?
Our young adults can’t follow the traditional school leaver’s pathway of university, TAFE, an apprenticeship, or a job? Our young people need a pathway that will work for them. They need to build capacity, social skills, develop self-insight, and self-confidence.
In the absence of any suitable social skill programs for their son, Helen and Michael designed and developed the Chill program. To them, this need was urgent, they called it a ‘Code Blue’.
Helen has a background in nursing and the arts, and Michael, an actor, musician, writer, and esteemed academic (in both creative industries and autism). Dr. Whelan is a published author and has led numerous research projects specifically focussed on high school inclusion and transition from school to adulthood. As parents of course, Helen and Michael draw on their lived experience of 25 years.