Arletta Van Den Bosch: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Finding positive ways to live and work with autism
Children's Autism Foundation
Compassionate. Driven. Steadfast
Families who have a child diagnosed with autism often struggle to come to terms with the condition. Then comes the struggle of easing their child’s integration into a world where autism is still misunderstood.
For sixteen years, family counsellor Arletta Van Den Bosch has been helping parents, teachers and autistic children to manage such struggles, and to discover positive ways to work with autism.
As a consultant at the Children's Autism Foundation, she uses an engaging combination of humour and practical strategies to help people achieve meaningful improvements in education, socialisation and community engagement.
“Children and young people who are adequately supported are resilient, happier and more confident,” says Arletta.
She sees being voted a Westfield Local Hero as huge community recognition of the work done by her and her colleagues. But she does not see herself as a hero. “If anyone is a hero, it’s not me, and perhaps not even my colleagues, it’s the families we work with.”
Anita is pleased that the foundation works with a diverse group of people from a range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. “I’m lucky to meet so many really cool families,” she says.
The team at the foundation are highly qualified in the field of autism and their evidence-based approach makes a crucial difference to the families they work with. “They know that we know what we’re talking about,” Arletta says.
Apart from counselling and family support, the foundation also helps schools with autistic learners, hosts community workshops, and helps autistic teenagers and post-teenagers with their transition into adulthood.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
The Foundation will use its grant to create a wide-ranging exhibition of work by young autistic artists.
“We have some awesome, awesome artists in our community,” says Arletta. “An exhibition is a great way to connect families, carers and autistic young people.
“We see a lack of social opportunities for autistic teenagers, especially, and art is great route for creating friendly social spaces.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.