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"It’s different for girls": autistic girls face unique challenges in their relationships

A new study shows that autistic girls are not getting the support they need to help them develop their friendships.

The study’s senior co-author is Professor Liz Pellicano, an internationally renowned expert on autism based at Macquarie University.

Researchers interviewed 102 children: 27 autistic girls, 27 autistic boys, 26 neurotypical (non-autistic) girls, and 23 neurotypical boys.

Autistic and non-autistic girls described similar approaches to friendship, with a focus on developing friends who they could depend on for social and emotional support.

Hyping Autism Research "News" Is a Disservice to People with Autism

Alycia Halladay


It’s also harmful to serious science

Click-worthy health and science headlines are an essential currency in today’s media world. When they pertain to autism, they might include phrases like “groundbreaking trial,” “offer hope” or “game-changer.” But for people with autism and their families, these headlines and the research news stories they highlight often bring false hope, confusion—or worse.

Children with autism show improvements in mainstream schooling

Children with autism do just as well in mainstream education as they do in specialised facilities, a new study has found.

In a world first, researchers at La Trobe University found children on the autism spectrum have flourished in mainstream classes and have had no negative impacts on other kids in their learning groups.

Duncan was one of 44 toddlers involved in a study that put children with autism in classes with children who don't to see if they coped better in a tailored facility.

Study links autism to toxic air pollutants


Children aged up to three years are more at risk of developing autism when exposed to toxic air pollutants, an Australian study shows.

Young children exposed to toxic air pollutants are significantly more likely to develop autism, new Australian research reveals.

The study of nearly 1500 children in China, aged up to three years, found those exposed to fine particles from some outdoor pollutants were up to 78 per cent more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder.

Parents made secret recordings of FaCS worker abusing autistic boy

Lennard Michael Downes

Angela Thompson

A magistrate is considering the fate of an Illawarra FaCs carer accused of assaulting a mute autistic boy, after the child’s parents took the extraordinary step of planting a recording device in their son’s bag in a bid to explain his bruises. 

In distressing audio recordings played to Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, Lennard Michael Downes is heard calling the boy a "f---ing c---" and threatening to hit him if he doesn’t eat.

‘Inappropriate IQ test’ results in ‘tens of thousands’ misdiagnosed with intellectual disability

Patrick Abboud

One in four children with disabilities is turned away from mainstream schools in Australia. Experts claim many of these children have been misdiagnosed with intellectual disabilities based on inappropriate IQ tests administered by the Department of Education.

See the source for the video ...


NDIS Independent Assessment Pilot

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) today announced a pilot which will use independent health professionals with experience in disability to undertake functional assessments, so that participants are able to access and use appropriate supports through the NDIS.

The NDIA will be piloting the use of independent health professionals who will use standardised tools that help determine the functional impact a person's disability has on their capacity to engage in the community, work place, and social activities.

Disability Groups Cautious Over NDIS Independent Assessment Pilot

Luke Michael

Disability advocates say they will be closely watching an independent assessments trial to ensure it achieves its stated aims of fairer access and planning decisions for National Disability Insurance Scheme participants, rather than reducing access to the scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Agency last week announced an independent assessment pilot aimed at improving the consistency, accuracy and reliability of NDIA decision-making.

'Atrocious': People locked out, tied up and left to fester - and nothing police can do

Harriet Alexander

The young man was kept in a garage thick with blowflies and the smell of faeces, feeding on meals left at an outdoor table where the dog also helped itself.

Neighbours observed him wandering the backyard for hours in a state of distress, slapping his face, biting himself, crying and banging on the back door to his family home. He had autism and an intellectual disability.

Taxpayer funds for cult DVD on autism

Rick Morton

An instructor in a “socially harmful cult” sold taxpayer-funded DVDs to parents that said autistic children could see spirits and illnesses from past lives, with the permission of the federal Department of Social Services, which was warned more than four years ago that the material was dangerous.

The Australian has obtained copies of emails sent in August 2014 to the department about Tanya Curtis and her Gold Coast-based “behaviour specialist” organisati­on Fabic, which is an approved provider receiving taxpayer subsidies under the federal government’s Helping Children with Autism package.

The Hunter's first high school tailored for children with autism is being built

Meg Francis

The Hunter’s first high school tailored for children with autism is anticipated to open its doors early next year.

For prominent developer Hilton Grugeon, the new facility will fill the gap for older students with autism in the Hunter region.

Mr Grugeon was one of the driving forces in establishing the Thornton-based Hunter Aspect School (primary) in 2011 – donating land, labour and building materials. 

Social stigma contributes to poor mental health in the autistic community

University of Surrey

Stress related to social stigma may be the reason why autistic people experience more mental health problems than the general population, dispelling past theories that the condition itself is the origin of such distress.

In the first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Society and Mental Health, researchers from the University of Surrey and University College London examined how stress related to social stigma, such as discrimination and rejection, impacts on the mental health of autistic people.

Joel's journey inspires at living with autism forum

Heidi Kraak

Thirty-two year old Joel Wilson's story is perhaps not very different from a lot of other people, but that, he says, is why it is an important story to tell.

Diagnosed with aspergers, now acknowledged as part of the autism spectrum disorder, as a teenager, Mr Wilson shared his life story at an autism forum in Traralgon recently to show young people with autism in the community and their families that an autism diagnosis does not preclude someone from a "normal life".

Millennials on the autism spectrum plug tech skills gap at DXC

Yolanda Redrup

IT services company DXC Technology is making headway in plugging the tech skills gap by tapping into a talent pool often neglected by employers, hiring people on the autism spectrum.

Since 2015, the New York Stock Exchange-listed company that employs 10,000 people in Australia has been running a three-year training project called the Dandelion Programme and has hired 80 people to take on a variety of tech roles.

DXC Technology Australia and New Zealand managing director Seelan Nayagam told The Australian Financial Review the program had been particularly successful in helping young people on the spectrum take on jobs in cyber security, data analytics and software testing.

Elderly therapy horse helps teen girl with autism

Simon Galletta

An elderly horse is helping a teenage girl in far-west New South Wales overcome her autism.

Rachel Kellie, 15, has been receiving equine therapy at the Murray River border town of Buronga, near Mildura, for more than a year.

"Whenever I'm around Psalm, I'm a lot calmer and a lot more courageous than I would normally be," Rachel said.

"When I'm not around horses, there's just a lot of things I never say."

But after a session with Psalm, Rachel's mother notices the change in her daughter.

Children's book says stop teasing kids with autism

Isabel Bird

A Tasmanian mother is hoping to promote social acceptance of autism with a picture book that teaches children and their parents about autism.

Katt Strachan has written Poppi Lou is Different which features Poppi, her nine-year-old daughter who is on the autism spectrum.

Ms Strachan said she started writing the book after Poppi came home from school sad and upset because other children did not want to play with her. 

New national guideline provides ‘very clear process’ for diagnosis of autism

Amanda Lyons

GP and autism advocate Dr James Best believes the guideline will prove helpful for patients, their families, and the GPs and other clinicians conducting assessments.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not uncommon in Australia, and diagnoses are on the rise – about 164,000 people across the country have ASD, a 79% increase* from 2009.

The autistic teenager making video games to show players what Asperger's is really like

Donal Sheil

A young, autistic game developer has showcased his innovative new project at Australia's largest gaming convention, as part of an exhibit putting diversity centre-stage.

Inspired by his experiences living with autism, Bradley Hennessey's experimental game, An Aspie Life allows players to experience life with Asperger's.

In addition to entertainment, Mr Hennessey said the power of video games to enhance empathy with others is undervalued.

"Really, games can do anything," he said.


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