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.

Our team

A peer mentor is a similar aged person (peer) who can provide support, guidance and role modelling to an individual.

Moving away from the standard carer model in disability, peer mentors provide the social and cultural relevance needed to provide valid social and communication support. Social modelling is learnt by observation and relies on the peer to demonstrate the targeted behaviour and the participant to imitate the behaviour. Peer-mediated interventions are well documented as an evidence-based practice for young people with ASD.

Our peer mentors
Experienced peer mentors (male & female) are assigned participants based on shared interests. Our peer mentors understand that every young person with ASD is different and has unique needs. At Code Blue our peer mentor team strives to provide each participant with individualised support to enable optimal social growth.

The beauty of training the social brain is that it can be approached from so many different angles, and the more that are tried, the stronger the neural connections will become. Individuals with different social brains can improve their behaviour by seeing something done properly, hearing it, walking through it, and acting it out in various situations.