Young people on the autism spectrum are invited to join the Lab Network as it opens up to people living in regional WA.
The not-for-profit organisation has been running since 2016, offering weekly sessions for young people with autism to explore tech and gaming, make new friends, and most importantly, feel safe and supported in social environments.
Tech-savvy mentors will help them explore their interests, connect with others and develop technical skills in areas such as coding, social gaming, digital design and video production.
The Lab Network chair Paul Staubli said kids on the spectrum had a particular affinity for technology and it was a great way to engage them socially through a shared interest.
"The mentors are able to help them explore their technical interest and they work together on their social and friendship skills," Mr Staubli said.
"The kids develop a network of peers and friends so they can explore their interests and start to turn an interest or passion in tech into something that would be an advantage for them down the track in terms of a technical skill.
"The kids enormously appreciate the opportunity to be in a safe and supportive space where people appreciate that they can be a bit different about the way they think or things they like to pursue.
"It is a safe space where they can explore their interests, share how they feel and be themselves.
"The thing that has been the greatest difference is the self esteem and confidence that it can engender in these young people who, in most cases, have had a fairly tough time through bullying and being isolated at school and outside of school."
Mr Staubli said in the short term the program would be run online for young people with autism in the region, then they hope to find a physical lab where the kids can go each week after school.
"We encourage local organisations or individuals, if they can, to provide some administrative support and a venue, then we would certainly like to provide an opportunity for the kids to get together face-to-face," he said.
"That is where we rely on local organisations which could be a disability service provider, local council or library, or individuals or businesses.
"The Lab does not need much, just a small area with some good wifi where the kids can get together after school on a weekly basis.
"If someone in the local area is able to help kids get together to pursue these passions and learn some social and technical skills we would certainly support them to do that."
Any young people on the autism spectrum who are interested in joining the Lab Network can go to the website thelab.org.au/ to find out more information or to register.