News/Announcements

Minister's letter announces research into diagnostic practice for autism

Back in November 2013, Peter Hill wrote (see link below) to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, asking about:

  • a meeting
  • the number of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses (which are increasing significantly)
  • the cost of ASD to the community and steps that could/should be taken to minimise the burden on the community

letter to Senator Fifield, Assistant Minister responsible for disability services and supports

Dear Senator Fifield

The following raises concerns about the likely and imminent demise of crucial services for children with autism. I understand that the contracts for the Autism Advisers (funded as part of the Commonwealth Government's Helping Children with Autism package) in South Australia and in the Australian Capital Territory have not been renewed. As a result of the NDIS, the Autism Adviser service in these regions will cease soon unless those contracts are renewed.

US CDC reports autism rate is 1 in 68 (2010 data)

A recent media release (see http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0327-autism-spectrum-disorder.html ) says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in multiple communities in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight year olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder. The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.

Note that recent (2012) Australian data on the prevalence of ASD shows 1 in 62 children in this country have a diagnosis ... see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/695 and http://a4.org.au/a4/node/622 There is nothing to celebrate in rising autism rates because people who are properly diagnosed with autism have significant disability that "requires support".

National disability scheme is excluding people affected by autism


Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme's (NDIS) Operational Guidelines – Access are dysfunctional in relation to autism spectrum disorder. The NDIS fails many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), denying them the services and supports they need. People with ASD are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Australia. The Government is not giving people with ASD a fair go.

The message is simple. Government needs to act to support people with ASD and to improve their outcomes. The NDIS eligibility criteria are designed to exclude some people with autism spectrum disorder from the NDIS, people who are assessed as needing disability services by allied health professionals with specific expertise in ASD. And for those people with ASD who are deemed eligible for the NDIS service and support, NDIS individual planners (gatekeepers), who mostly lack expertise in and understanding of autism, reject some requests for essential disability services and supports. Following is the evidence and justification for this simple claim that the NDIS, the scheme created to address the enormous disadvantage that Australians with a disability experience, in its initial implementation is failing people with ASD.

letter to Senator Abetz

A4's Convenor posted a letter to Senator Abetz this morning. The letter requested a meeting to discuss matters arising from things he said on the ABC's Q&A program first broadcast on 17/2/2014.

The letter contains links to the video of the show ... and our transcript of the section of concern of the show.

It also gives detailed reason for our concerns ... and evidence to support our case.

A4 is concerned that Minister Abetz and the Government:

  • misunderstand and misrepresent people who receive a Disability Support Pension ... often portraying them as welfare bludgers

Abbott Government ignores completely stakeholder advice on disability employment

Following misinformation in the media (see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/742), A4 wrote to the newly elected Prime Minister warning about policy that vilifies people with severe and profound disability for being unemployed.

This information is essential for the Treasurer and the Finance Minister ... but the Prime Minister's office chose to not send the letter to most of the key agencies and Ministers. Apparently, they sent it only to the Department of Social Services. The Social Services Department's response (download below) shows little or no recognition of the letter's content.

Meeting request - Senator Fifield about the NDIS

A4 requested a meeting with Senator Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services (responsible for Disability Services), to discuss how to improve the NDIS for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A4 shares some of the concerns raised in The Australian (see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/756) relating to people with Intellectual Disability; at least 30% of people with autism, often severe autism, also have an intellectual disability so we can expect to have some common concerns/issues. A4 and also has concerns that specifically relate to autism.

UC Davis MIND Institute Study Finds That Children Who Have Autism Far More Likely to Have Tummy Troubles

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) November 06, 2013

The gastrointestinal problems are linked to problem behaviors in children with autism, developmental delay.

Children with autism experience gastrointestinal (GI) upsets such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods six-to-eight times more often than do children who are developing typically, and those symptoms are related to behavioral problems, including social withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviors, a new study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found.

to the Prime Minister: please avoid the usual Government vilification of people with disability

A4 sent the following message to the Prime Minister in response to the usual media attacks on people with disability.


Dear Prime Minister Abbott

I write hoping to head off yet another round of Government vilifying people with disability.

NDIS: reverts to original name ... slowly and cheaply


The Coalition in line with its pre-election commitment has directed that DisabilityCare resume its original name of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The return to NDIS has two purposes. The first is to leave behind a name that was seen by many people with disability as patronising and not reflecting the intent of the scheme to have the individual at the centre and in charge.

People with disability don't so much want to be cared for as supported to be as independent as they can.

Bob Buckley: State Finalist (ACT) Senior Australian of the Year 2014

Autism activist

Many people would find it impossible to devote the time and energy to advocacy activities while also caring for a child with a disability. For Bob Buckley, however, having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has driven his desire to raise awareness, attract funding and advocate for better opportunities for people living with ASD. After his son was diagnosed with the disorder, Bob began to apply his outstanding academic and analytical skills to become one of Australia’s most formidable ASD activists. In 2002, Bob co-founded Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, which he convenes to this day.

Autism CRC website and a media release


Australia's Autism CRC has posted its website — see http://www.autismcrc.com.au/

It also posted a media release ...

Researchers to unveil details of world first autism diagnostic tool

Australian researchers are combining genetic, biological and behavioural research to develop a world first screening tool that could enable early identification of autism risk.

Australian Press Council ruling on autism reference

THE following adjudication has been issued by the Australian Press Council.

The Press Council has considered a complaint about an article published on the news.com.au site on 23 November 2012, titled "Autistic man convicted of murdering WA mum". It concerned the conviction on that day of a man for the murder of his mother.

DisabilityCare (NDIS) start: with serious initial concerns relating to people with autism/ASD

DisabilityCare, the renamed and emerging NDIS, "launched" in a number of locations (states?). Now we start to see how it is being implemented. Our hope is that the scheme will be genuinely person-centred: that is, it will focus on identifying and meeting the needs of each person (individual) with a disability. Our particular concerns relate to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Access to justice in the criminal justice system for people with disability

A4's submission/feedback on the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Issues Paper on "Access to justice in the criminal justice system for people with disability" (see https://www.humanrights.gov.au/access-justice-criminal-justice-system-pe...) can be downloaded below.

A4 highlights that for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Australia does not have a "justice system", what it has is a legal system; a system of legal processes that rarely delivers justice for people with ASD.

feedback on Restrictive Practices in the Disability Service Sector

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) sent feedback on FaHCSIA's Draft Proposed National Framework for Reducing the Use of Restrictive Practices in the Disability Service Sector (see http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/pub...).

The main points in A4's feedback were:

    Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Prime Minister Gillard announced $31 million for a CRC for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (see http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/70-million-boost-world-class-research). This is a welcome move from the Gillard Government.

    "The implementation of a highly innovative 'whole-of-life' research portfolio will deliver a continuum of support required for people with Autism to participate successfully in education, employment and all facets of the community."

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