Petrina Berry, August 15, 2010
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been criticised for not doing enough for children with autism during this election.
Autism Queensland says Labor's proposal to give teachers cash incentives for improved attendance and literacy and numeracy results will not change outcomes for students with autism and Asperger's syndrome.
Autism is a disorder of neural development which affects a person's social skills and language skills, characterised by restricted and repetitive behaviour. Asperger's is a milder form of autism and is largely characterised by poor social skills.
Chief executive of Autism Queensland Penny Beeston says autism was on the rise and as a result more teachers were having to cater for these children with special needs.
"They are the children that Julia Gillard is talking about. The ones who don't attend school," Ms Beeston told AAP.
"It's often the children with autism who are the ones falling out of schools.
"Paying overstretched teachers bonuses does not address the core of the problem, which is the lack of resourcing in our schools for teacher training and expert support around the learning needs of children with autism and other disabilities."
She said early intervention programs were proving to be a success and should be extended to include the child's entire school life.
The Labor government committed $190 million over four years to June 2012 to deliver support and services for children with autism or Asperger's, including an early intervention program for children aged zero to six.
Ms Beeston says the early intervention package was making a big difference but it doesn't go far enough.
"The government sees how positive the outcome of the early intervention package has been, so why not extend this to include the child's entire schooling life and into their working lives?" she said.
Autism experts will gather on the Sunshine Coast for a two-day Autism Queensland symposium for parents, carers, local therapists, teachers, medical practitioners and support workers of people with autism on Monday and Tuesday.
A 2007 study found one in 160 Australian children aged between six and 12 years has an autism spectrum disorder.