Successful Run

Enrich+ not only receive great services from IT Partners, but one of IT Partners team, Jason Walker, recently went the extra mile (literally) for us. Jason did the Round the Bridges Race as a fund raiser for our Enrich+ Spectrum Energy service. He completed the run in 1:01:31 and was feeling pretty tired afterwards!

Autism is close to Jason’s heart, his wonderful niece is on the autism spectrum and he understands the real challenges people with autism and their families have in being funded for services.

Autism is a neuro developmental difference that impacts around 1 in 88 people in New Zealand. Those with autism can face challenges in communication and managing social situations. For many years there has been limited support available for people with autism and their families.

Enrich+ recognised the need for services for those with High Functioning Autism (previously known as Asperger’s) due to a serious gap in funding and services. Those with Autism often miss out on ‘a life like any other’. In 2015 Enrich+ Spectrum Energy was established to fulfil the service need for those with Autism, their whānau / caregivers, schools and employers, across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Enrich+ Spectrum Energy receives no funding from the government and as such relies on a fee for service structure and philanthropic funding.

Every contribution counts – we couldn’t do the work we do, without our supporters, so we were really thrilled to have Jason doing the Round the Bridges Race, and fundraising on our behalf.

A big thank you to those of you who have already donated, and those of you who are about to! Thanks again Jason, you are a Star!





People that Enrich+ support are feeling positive

Every two years, Enrich+ asks for feedback from people using our services. This feedback helps us to continue to develop and improve what we are offering to disabled people. We have used an independent surveyor, Anne Wilkinson, to lead and facilitate our surveys which ensures greater objectivity, and this year 50 people that Enrich+ support participated.


Feedback highlighted some challenges with computer resources that we are looking into, as well as the people we support being able to transfer the skills they are developing at Enrich+ into their everyday lives. Where individuals are living in residential accommodation or at home Enrich+ want to work more closely with those supports to ensure skills learnt with us can be used in other areas of their lives.


Questions that received the highest percentage of positive responses included:

– are you able to practice your cultural and religious beliefs at Enrich+, such as karakia and waiata?

– do you think your cultural needs are respected?

– do you like the staff who work with you every day?

– do you think the staff talk to you in a way that is friendly, polite and respectful?

– are the activities you do in the community well organised?


The survey report commented that there is increased opportunity for people to learn about Māori culture and themselves, through the Cultural Ambassador Service and participants of this service get real huge pleasure and a sense of wellbeing from the engagement.


There were good scores given in the section on staff, showing that staff at Enrich+ are well liked by clients and are polite, friendly and respectful. Clients felt highly valued by Enrich+ staff.


Alongside the survey, there was an open discussion held with the parents of those attending Youth+, our facilitated group for 13-25 year olds with autism. The feedback from the parents was positive, including comments that:

– attending the group is teaching their youth social behaviours that they are able to use in other areas of their lives

– participants self-confidence has grown as they have learnt about social constructs that most people take for granted, such as irony and sarcasm

– youth are becoming more talkative with their peers, making more friends and sustaining relationships for longer

– the Youth+ programme provides the positivity and acceptance young people need


Some of the participants in the group travelled up to an hour to attend, which for Enrich+ is an endorsement of the outcomes being achieved by individuals at Youth+.


Overall there was an encouraging response to the survey questions indicating that the people we support are enjoying the services they receive with Enrich+, and the positive results being achieved.


Running for Autism

Jason is ‘running for autism’ and will be raising money for Enrich+ Spectrum Energy!


Jason has challenged himself to complete Hamilton’s ‘Round the Bridges’ run in 1 hour but for every minute that he goes over that hour he’s going to donate $100 (up to $500) to Enrich+ Spectrum Energy!


Jason is the Head of Sales for IT Partners, who provide services to Enrich+.


Jason understands the real challenge people with Autism and their families have in being funded for services, as his wonderful niece has autism.


If you would like to give a little too, visit Jason’s page to donate.


A Parent’s Perspective


Our CEO, Wendy recently attended the Altogether Autism Conference in Auckland, and had the privilege of hearing Rochelle Nafatali speak of her Samoan family’s journey with their son who is autistic. Several notes struck a chord with Wendy that she wanted to share.


When the Nafatali family went looking for help, they were told not to worry. Their son was bright, bilingual, and people said that he would be fine. Many of their concerns about him not talking much, playing and reading by himself, and having regular melt downs, were ignored. After many assessments, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism. Rochelle had several pearls of wisdom to share;


– Pasifika people traditionally care for family members in-house. She encourages all families to be careful not to allow acceptance of a diagnosis to turn into complacency and fatalism

– recognise the child can learn and develop

– once diagnosed, a label can lead to people having low expectations of the person. Don’t accept the low expectations of others

– those who say the person is ‘only a little bit autistic’ can create a sense that the child is undeserving of support, and discounts the hard work of parents and others, and some may feel this comment denies the journey of the individual and family

– celebrate the wins no matter how small, because these lead to bigger wins

– and don’t forget the power of encouragement and praise


In summarising her talk, Rochelle encouraged families to;


– push for what they need

– realise that they are the best advocates for their child

– don’t do it alone!

– keep exposing your child to every experience you can, especially cultural ones

– don’t immediately accept what is said about your child – set your own guided expectations

– celebrate every win

– follow the child’s interests and encourage mastery


Rochelle’s insights are not just relevant to parents and families of children with autism, but make good sense in helping all families who have a child with a disability. Thanks Rochelle for sharing with us!



Bethany’s Transitions


Leaving school can be daunting, especially if you are unsure of what to do and what direction life is going to take you. For someone with autism, this change can be extremely unsettling and hard to adjust to. With the support of Enrich+, Bethany’s transition from school to life has been made easier.


Two years ago, Bethany was diagnosed with Autism and obsessive compulsive disorder.  At the age of 17, and just before she was due to leave school, this provided a sense of relief and a new understanding for Bethany of the anxiety she often felt, the difficulties she had socially, and the problems she had with sensory issues. Bethany also knew she was going to struggle to adjust to life outside of school.


Life up until leaving school consisted of routines set by Bethany’s mum. These routines helped mask her autism and helped Bethany to imitate those around her for answers in what to do in social situations. Change was always difficult for Bethany. Any change in pattern or routine was met with panic and distress. School had a steady structure where Bethany always knew what was happening at any given time. There was no part of the day where she didn’t have somewhere to be. Going from this structured school day into limbo, Bethany became lost very quickly.


Bethany felt that she needed some support and coaching to develop coping strategies moving away from high school and realised that being able to develop friendships and have conversations with strangers was going to be vital.  She started having mentoring sessions at Enrich+ with our facilitator, Tanwen Ward, as well as attending Youth+, a facilitated group designed to build teenagers and young adults social, communication and life skills. Bethany says that “the mentoring sessions at Enrich+ became a life line in developing tools, knowledge and confidence to move forward from high school”.


Uncertain about what she wanted to do after leaving school and the desire to further develop her social skills and confidence in speaking to strangers , Enrich+ supported Bethany in gaining employment at Columbus Café. While working some people didn’t know how to interact with Bethany  because of her body language and social behaviours. , Bethany had to quickly learn to manage her quirks,  and accept that others may struggle with understanding and coping themselves with her autism. With on the job coaching from Enrich+  around coping strategies Bethany’s experience of employment has been positive, and enabled her to think further about her future.


With a new aspiration since the beginning of this year, Bethany attended an open day at the University of Otago. This was daunting for Bethany as  she had never been away from home or her mum. With Tanwen by her side Bethany’s visit to Otago was a huge success, discovering the wide variety of resources that would be available to her because of her autism. The changes in Bethany through her mentoring sessions, attending Youth+ and the resources that the university will have for her made Bethany confident in her transition from life at home to life at university.


When the theme for the 2017 Altogether Autism conference, in Auckland, was announced as ‘Transitions’, Tanwen and Enrich+ Spectrum Energy Service Manager, Karen Sluter knew that it would be amazing if Bethany would share her journey with others with autism, their whanau and professionals.


The first time at a conference, and only the 2nd time away from her parents, Bethany was nervous. There were many strangers surrounding her and a sensory overload of sounds. Bethany was well prepared for her presentation, having made herself cue cards, and having rehearsed  it many times on her own. Standing up in front of70 conference attendees the nerves soon faded away. The cue cards weren’t needed. Bethany responded to the audience brilliantly. She went off script accordingly and added a few jokes which made people laugh.


Answering questions at the end of her presentation Bethany said she “felt an overwhelming sense of support” and the talk gave her so much confidence for the rest of the conference where she raised her hand and asked questions of other speakers, talked to other attendees, and socialised at the conference dinner.

Reflecting on the conference, Karen says “it was amazing to watch Bethany at the end of the conference, in incredibly high spirits, say goodbye to people she had met, people that were complete strangers to her two days ago and to think that 8 months ago Bethany wouldn’t look or say anything to a stranger”..


Bethany is still riding this wave of confidence. Opportunities have since arisen, with Bethany taking part in an interview for Te Pou this week about experiences with funding and support and she is writing an article for the Altogether Autism journal. Bethany is also thrilled to have found out last week that she has been accepted to study first year Health Sciences at Otago University; Bethany has achieved her goal and is looking forward to the next chapter.


Advice to anyone considering attending a conference, or even presenting – give it a go. You never quite know where it will lead!





Leaping Around

With the votes in and counted there was almost a unanimous decision for the Youth+ group to celebrate the end of term at Leap and Laser Tag in Te Rapa. Youth+ is a social group for people aged 13 – 25 with Autism. Through term time the group focus on developing social and communication skills, to enable them to understand the complexities of social communication in our daily lives.


Developing general conversational skills, and understanding jokes and sarcasm, can be challenging for someone with Autism. A lot of hard work goes into developing social and communication skills. Getting out into the community during the term as a group really allows our youth to practise what they are learning, extending comfort zones, and having fun as a teenager or young adult.


The group also encourages those attending to ‘be themselves’, so it’s a relaxed and welcoming place. Real friendships have grown spontaneously. Being able to choose an activity together, like Leap, and celebrate what they have achieved is a great way to end the term.


Leap staff were fantastic at adjusting the lights and sound to make the environment friendly to those with Autism. There was a competitive edge at Laser Tag with the group splitting into 3 teams; Green, Blue and Red with the Red team taking out the other two by a significant margin. Dodge ball proved to be a hit too, the classic playground game of chucking a ball at someone didn’t damage any friendships but showed people’s throwing ability and enabled them to demonstrate their communication skills.


Getting to jump around on the trampolines also proved to be great fun, and having had a great term and burnt off some energy leaping around Youth+ are looking forward to starting back next term with fresh activities!


Lego+ and Youth+ Term 2

Lego+ will be at Princes Street from Tuesday 9 May, 4pm – 5.30pm.

Lego+ is for children between 5-12 years who are either on the autism spectrum or are in need of a comfortable, safe environment in which to practice their social and communication skills and make friends while having fun with different LEGO inspired activities.


The sessions will be throughout the school term and cost is $15 per session.


Contact Tanwen at tanwen.ward@enrichplus.org.nz or Karen at karen.sluter@enrichplus.org.nz to register interest. Spread the word to anyone who you think would benefit from this!




Youth+ is our social support group that runs during the school term on Wednesday nights for teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum.


With a focus on games and activities that build our social and communication skills to develop friendships and gain our independence, Youth+ is for 13 – 25 year olds.


Last term the group had an after-hours visit to the Waikato Museum to have a bit of fun with the Milk Matters and Excsite exhibitions, and a visit to the Hamilton Central fire station for a brilliant information session about fire safety and a photo op in the Fire Trucks!


Get in contact with Tanwen at tanwen.ward@enrichplus.org.nz for more information and to join Youth+.


Waikato Wellbeing Show

Enrich+ and Enrich+ Spectrum Energy were again proud to be part of the Waikato Wellbeing Show this year, with a stand at the show and several staff manning this over the 3 days to interact with members of the public and share about the many services we have to offer.


We also had a team of volunteers directing cars to parking wardens and collecting koha for parking at the gates. Starting at 9.30am on the first day of the show, the crew worked through to 2.30pm alongside the Hamilton City Cadet Unit. With lots of laughter intermingled with the serious business of collecting the koha, the volunteers also got free entry into the show as an acknowledgement of thanks.


Thoroughly enjoyed by the team there are already plans in place to put hands up for volunteering next year, and for all 3 days!




Kaleidoscope of Colour

Autism is a neuro developmental difference that impacts around 1 in 88 people in New Zealand. Those with autism can face challenges in communication and managing social situations. For many years there has been limited support available for people with autism and their families.


Enrich+ recognised the need for services for those with High Functioning Autism (previously known as Asperger’s) due to a serious gap in funding and services. Those with Autism often miss out on ‘a life like any other’. In 2015 Enrich+ Spectrum Energy was established to fulfil the service need for those with Autism, their whānau / caregivers, schools and employers, across the Waikato.


With April being Autism Acceptance Month, a time to promote the acceptance and celebration of autistic people as family members, friends, classmates, co-workers and community members making valuable contributions to our world.


As part of Enrich+ and Enrich+ Spectrum Energy showing their support of Autism Acceptance Month we are pleased to present an art exhibition from some of our finest artists at the Te Awamutu Museum from April 18th – April 23rd 2017.


Expanding to Tauranga

Another new exciting development for Enrich+ is being able to offer services in the Tauranga area. With a dedicated and committed member of staff in the area, Michelle Fokerd, will be supporting people into employment through ACC, supporting people to live independently (Supported Living Contract) and will be facilitating a Youth+ group for 16 – 25 year olds with autism. This service is $15 per person, per session.


Michelle has moved to Tauranga, having worked for Enrich+ since 2013 as a Facilitator in Taumarunui. In this role she supported people to be a part of their communities, through finding voluntary and paid work, finding leisure/creative opportunities, and through being a facilitator for the Enabling Good Lives Demonstration. Michelle knows Enrich+ vision, values and purpose well and is happy for you to contact her if you think she may be able to assist you to access the right service for you.





Welcome to Karen Sluter

Enrich+ Spectrum Energy were delighted to welcome Karen Sluter to the team in October 2016. Karen has taken over the role since Amanda Phillips went on maternity leave and welcomed her baby boy, Austin into the world.


Karen has been working with the team part-time whilst completing her PHD in Behavioural Psychology and will move to full time on 1 April 2017.


Having grown up in Birmingham, England she immigrated to New Zealand with her family at the age of 17 and enrolled at Waikato University to complete her applied psychology degree, specialising in behaviour analysis.


Karen has found the Enrich+ organisation to be inspirational and, in her words “just because you have a disability or you are on the autism spectrum does not mean you can’t have a life like any other.” Supporting people to achieve what they want out of life and the variety and range of work as Enrich+ Spectrum Energy Service Manager attracted Karen to the position.


As part of Enrich+ Spectrum Energy’s partnership collaboration with Altogether Autism Karen has been delivering the PRISM Development Series throughout the country. With her background at university teaching graduate papers, Karen is very familiar with the training content and has been enjoying facilitating training to a different group of attendees.


Specifically designed for professional whose jobs involve engaging with people on the autism spectrum, the PRISM Professional Development Series can be run as in-house workshops for large organisations or combined workshops for smaller organisations.


Over the last 6 months Karen has been analysing the services on offer, whilst working with clients and offering support to schools and whānau. She is looking forward to service expansion and one of her goals for this year is to relaunch Lego+ (formerly known as Lego Club) as well explore additional evenings for Youth+ given the service is at full capacity and has been for a while.


Supporting People to Live Independently

Enrich+ and Enrich+ Spectrum Energy are extremely excited to announce that we are now offering a Supported Living (SL) service. Supported Living services help individuals with disabilities to be as independent as possible. It may include offering one to one support to:

– find somewhere to live

– learn household tasks

– be aware of safety in the home and community

– complete personal shopping

– budget money and pay bills

– read and understand mail and keep records

– travel independently

– deal with agencies such as WINZ or the bank

– access community facilitates

– develop friendships




Subcontracting to Community Connections, Enrich+ will be offering SL services in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Enrich+ and Community Connections share similar values as organisations and have been working together on this project for almost a year. Community Connections have supported living services on the Kapiti Coast, in Hutt Valley, Palmerston North, and Hawkes Bay.


It is really important each person gets to choose their own staff, to help them on their journey to greater independence. Vikki Lynn, Enrich+ team leader, meets monthly with each person receiving support  to check how things are going, and to make changes to the support plan if need be. Whānau are also a key part of getting the support package right. Family remain in a persons’ life long after support services change or are no longer needed, and they are so important to the person having ‘a life like any other’.

To access the service, the person needs to have had a Needs Assessment through Disability Support Link or SupportNet. The agency identifies how many hours per week the person will need. The person and their family then choose the provider that suits their needs best. If you are looking for a Supported Living service, we do hope that you will check Enrich+ and Enrich+ Spectrum Energy out!






Report: Determining the workforce development needs of New Zealand’s autism workforce

This information gathering report looks at the current learning and development activities available across New Zealand for the workforce supporting children and adults with autism through funding from Disability Support Services.


Light it up Gold

Light It Up Gold


This week kicks off Autism Acceptance Month 2016.  There are a number of different initiatives around the globe that acknowledge Autism during April, and 2nd April is a day that has been about raising the general public’s awareness of autism.  In 2011 the Autism Acceptance movement began and it has been growing each year.   This year Enrich+ Spectrum Energy will be celebrating Autism Acceptance throughout the month of April with the theme ‘Light it up Gold’.  Autism Acceptance promotes acceptance and celebration of autistic people as family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and community members making valuable contributions to our world.





Helping to create a ‘Life like any other’

Enrich+ Spectrum Energy would like to thank Life Unlimited Charitable Trust, for their generous donation and continue support.  Life Unlimited kindly donated $14,000 to enable Enrich+ Spectrum Energy to continue to develop services for those on the autism spectrum and their families.


Ramble funds support Autism programme

Enrich+ Spectrum Energy would like to thank the Altrusa Club of Te Awamutu for their generous donation.  Following the success of their recent Garden Ramble, funding has been provided to support autism services in Te Awamutu.  Enrich+ Spectrum Energy have developed ‘Autism Action’ – a package supporting students, their whanau and school.  Through the Altrusa funding, Enrich+ Spectrum Energy is working with five schools and a number of students and their families in the Waipa.  Click here to view the article.


Sesame Street support Children with Autism

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street, have created ‘Sesame Street and Autism: see amazing in all children’, a nationwide initiative designed to assist children on the autism spectrum between 2 to 5 years of age.  Click here to view the link.


Speech Inspires Altogether Autism audience

On 22nd and 23rd July Altogether Autism held their second Autism Conference in Auckland.


The conference was a huge success with presenters attending from across New Zealand, including a mix of psychologists, doctors, teachers, behaviour specialists, families and those living with autism. Amongst the presenters were two of the young men Enrich+ Spectrum Energy supports through their service Youth+.


Dion and Scott attended the conference, and on the second morning presented to a room of 45 people. They spoke openly about their experiences living with autism, the supports that have helped them and the great successes they are having in life. For both of them it was their first public speaking experience, and they were fantastic, fully engaging the audience and entertaining everyone with their jokes. The audience loved hearing their views on life on the spectrum and what had worked for them in regards to support.


Following their presentation Dion and Scott were congratulated by many people, including others who are on the spectrum, who were amazed that they could speak so openly about their own experiences.


For those of us that work with these young men, the best part was the huge smiles on their faces and the sense of pride in themselves when they were finished. Everyone in the room was inspired by these two young men and everything they are achieving in their lives.


Fantastic fundraiser

On Friday 21st August Enrich+ Spectrum Energy hosted dignitaries and special guests, a number organisations and individuals at a fundraising dinner and auction.  The Don Rowland Centre at Lake Karapiro set the scene for a fabulous evening of fine food and wine, with 185 guests, and over 25 main auction items and 35 silent auction items.  We were thrilled to fundraise over $30,000 for autism services in the Waikato and Waipa.  With the lack of funding for these services this will enable families to access the support they need for the young people in their lives living with autism.  We are grateful for the support of our guest MC actor Shane Cortese, and local organisations such as The Greenlea Foundation, Life Unlimited, PakNSave, to name a few.


Spotlight on autism

Please join Enrich+ as we help to support individuals living with Autism and their families.  We are hosting a dinner and auction on Friday 21st August 2015 at the Don Rowland Centre at Lake Karapiro.  The evening includes a 3-course dinner and wine, entertainment, silent and live auctions, plus guest speaker Nothing Trivial and Almighty Johnson actor Shane Cortese!!  Contact Anna Kensington to book your tickets or table for 10 on 07 872 0953 or email anna.kensington@enrichplus.org.nzRSVPs close Friday 14th August 2015.



















* Fundraiser Auction Items *

We have been thrilled with the response of the community in supporting the Enrich+ Spectrum Energy fundraiser, and are delighted to share some of our great items that will be auctioned off at the dinner on Friday 21st August.  Click here to view our Silent Auction Items.



Kaka is Calling Framed Print ‘The Kaka is Calling’ by Auckland artist Sofia Minson www.newzealandartwork.com















Harness racing Join a professional driver for the race of a lifetime in a special 2-seater sulky at Cambridge Raceway! This experience includes a reserved table in the Members’ Lounge, full safety gear and clothing, along with a complimentary DVD with commentary.









Succulent white buddha in cross

Amazing garden art pieces by Wellington succulent enthusiast Caroline Arrell















Rob Waddell shirt

We have a number of signed sports jerseys, including a signed Team New Zealand shirt from Rob Waddell















We have a selection of electronic equipment, including a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, a HP AC200W Go Pro Camera, and a Brother Inkjet All-in-One Printer  

Samsung-Galaxy-Tab-A HP ac200w Action Camera Inkjet Printer













Lego Club a fun way to learn

Read the latest on Enrich+ Spectrum Energy featured in the Life Unlimited winter newsletter


Like to know more? Get in touch now