By leave: Autism affects one in 100 children in Australia, and the rate is increasing. Kids with autism often are misunderstood. They are not naughty, but they can find it difficult to cope in new situations or struggle to communicate.

Many parents and carers with children diagnosed with autism still face social isolation and have a desire to connect with others who are experiencing the same challenges.

The Autism Community Network supports families—parents, carers and siblings—as well as children and adults who are on the autism spectrum.

I am very pleased to welcome the new support group of the network to the inner west, which is now meeting every month in Petersham. This means that parents have a regular welcoming place at which to talk openly about their challenges and get practical support for their kids, such as music therapy, youth clubs and cooking and computer classes.

I congratulate Steve Drakoulis and his team of volunteers who are working every day to support those assisting their loved ones to build confidence and develop friendships.

The Autism Community Network is proof that access to appropriate services results in communal benefits for those affected by autism, who often have fought for recognition and support.