Promoting acceptance and understanding of Autism and Neurodiversity

Our mission is to instill a positive mindset in students, Autistic individuals, parents, and staff members about Autism through accepting and embracing the difference and empowering Autistic individuals to follow their passions.

Our vision is to increase understanding, awareness, and acceptance about Autism in the community. We hope that through our services, we can help support the needs of Autistic individuals and help them harness their unique strengths. Through working with teachers, staff members, parents, students, and Autistic individuals themselves, we aim to equip them with knowledge and appreciation of this Neurodivergence.


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Shadia Hancock


Owner and Founder

Shadia is the proud owner, and founder of Autism Actually, and enjoys presenting and consultancy. 

They are currently studying Bachelor of Speech Pathology with the long-term goal of providing client centred animal assisted therapy for Neurodivergent individuals.

Shadia was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder at the age of 14. Being non-binary, they enjoy discussing the intersectionality of Autism and gender diversity.

Shadia benefited from numerous early supports such as speech therapy and occupational therapy. They are very passionate about sharing information about what being Autistic is like.

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Jane Hancock



Jane is one of our experienced presenters and advocates at Autism Actually. In addition to being a trained Secondary Mathematics/Science teacher, Jane also has a Master’s degree of Inclusive Education for Autistic students.

From 2008 to 2012, Jane was a member of the Victorian team for the Positive Partnerships project; a Federal-government initiative aimed at supporting school aged Autistic students.
Jane works as Assistant Learning Leader in the Learning Diversity Department at Whitefriars College, and enjoys teaching mathematics in creative ways.

Jane is the parent of Shadia, and is passionate about sharing her professional and personal understanding of Autism in order to inform other teachers. Jane was also identified as Autistic in 2020.





Speaker and support worker

Brittany is currently studying a Certificate IV in Youth Social Work and is one of our presenters and mentors. Brittany has a passion for helping children and engaging on all levels with them. She is a strong believer in leading a child the right way to ensure that all their needs are met physically and emotionally.

Brittany was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression at the age of 8, and later on Autism at the age of 14. She greatly benefitted from Occupational Therapy from a young age. Brittany’s Autism diagnosis gave her a sense of belonging, and allowed her to get the support she needed to be able to function effectively day to day.

Based on her personal experiences and unique insights being on the spectrum, Brittany feels dedicated in raising awareness and helping children develop strategies to be able to cope with day to day life.


Freya Hancock
Assistance dog

Freya is an enthusiastic and dedicated team member of Autism Actually, providing daily support and assistance to her handler Shadia.

Freya entered Shadia's life in February 2020, and was accredited as a psychiatric assistance dog through MindDog assistance dog trainee in November 2021.

Freya helps Shadia manage their sensory issues, anxiety, and access to public places by accompanying them in cafes, supermarkets, university, work, and public transport.

She also provides Shadia with unconditional love and acceptance and even joins in with Shadia's stim dancing moments!


Freya enjoys accompanying Shadia on their various adventures, playing fetch, long walks in the bush, and having ample cuddle time on the couch.