YOUNG people with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism are gaining valuable computer skills thanks to a pilot project running in Maidstone.
A parent survey about The Lab in June found the centre was having an ‘‘incredibly positive’’ impact on young people and their families.
One parent, who visits The Lab weekly with participant Sam, said it made life easier when he was motivated and happy.
“In supporting Sam’s passion, it has also introduced me to some amazing and dedicated people.”
Another parent said son Alex was now planning out his life as an adult, with a career in IT.
“Alex never did that before. Alex is much more confident in his own abilities now.
‘‘This has had a huge positive effect on Alex’s mental health.”
The Lab is a collaborative project between Victoria University and Oztron, with funding from the Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre.
It has helped dozens of teenagers since it began in 2009 with a VicHealth-funded research project that found one-on-one technology tuition worked particularly well with young people with Asperger’s syndrome.
Touring The Lab last week, Maribyrnong MP Bill Shorten said it was fantastic to see young people doing something they loved and to hear of the emotional experiences of their parents. He said employers needed to see potential rather than disability as there was a clear business case for employing a diverse workforce.
“To remain competitive, and to attract and recruit the people they need, employers must keep up with change.”