Living with Spiderboy: Raising a child with ASD

When you’re a parent of a child with high-functioning autism, you learn to make allowances. But should borderline arachnophobe Ian Rose allow his son a pet spider for his birthday?

Ian Rose

Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders? The latest in a series of obsessive enthusiasms that have characterised our son’s early childhood, the spider is not a beast to which I’ve ever warmed.

If you don’t vaccinate your kids, Australia won’t pay for your child care

Amanda Erickson 

In Australia, there used to be widespread agreement that vaccinating children against fatal diseases was a good thing. Kids got shots, and the rate of childhood diseases plummeted.

But then things changed. In 1994, a group calling itself the Australian Vaccination Network launched a campaign claiming the risks of vaccines (which are essentially nonexistent). Its core mission: “to ensure that vaccinations are never made compulsory for Australian children." (Years later, the group was forced to change its name to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, or else be de-registered.) The group seized on a fraudulent, wholly discredited paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism.

Disability inclusion practices failing some families, says experienced WA educator

By Nicolas Perpitch

The Western Australian education system is failing to meet the needs of some highly disabled children because of inflexibility and a lack of expertise, according to an experienced educator.

Stephen Breen, the immediate past-president of the WA Primary Principals Association and a teacher and principal for 42 years, has been joined by disability advocates in criticism of the Education Department's inclusion practices.

Autistic academics give their thoughts on university life

Around 3% of students in higher education are autistic and universities are working hard to listen, understand and meet their needs. But the fact that autistic students can become autistic academics appears to have gone unnoticed.

Autism research is still dominated by approaches which treat it as a “disorder” or a “deficit”. Research funding prioritises this “basic science” over work which approaches autism as a “natural human variation” or just difference.

When a family member has a disability, what happens when the carer doesn't come?

The disability support industry is facing a dramatic shortage of trained carers, leaving thousands of families without regular care and much needed respite.

Lateline spent a day with Fiona Hough and her five-year-old son Charlie, who has autism, to see how they cope when the carer doesn't come.

"Not having that person there, it's amazing how quickly you can get down into really dark territory," Ms Hough said.

Disability agencies say they are struggling to recruit staff and keep up with the demand from families in need.

Tasmania: DHHS Provides A Free Evidence-Based Platform with Best-Practice Intervention Tools

Today, 1 in 63 children will be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (according to A4 2015).
For the past two years, the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services has been supporting schools and families in behaviour management and skill development with the world’s leading evidence-based platform Rethink.

Rethink provides a free on-line solution that helps teachers:

  • Develop custom learning curriculum (aligned to Australian Curriculum)

  • Monitor and track student progress

Autism Prevalence Up, But Not Spiking

Typo in Pediatrics inflates increase in autism

by F. Perry Wilson MD, MSCE

The paper contains a jarring statement: the rate of autism spectrum disorder rose by "almost 400%" from 2007 to 2011, but the statement is wrong.

The paper in question is published online today by Pediatrics, but a close review of the data revealed that the number was drastically inflated.

'We almost lost him': Canberrans with special needs turned away from hospital

Sherryn Groch

As new research reveals Australians with intellectual disabilities are dying avoidable deaths, two Canberra carers share their own 'horror' stories.

It started with just a runny nose and a routine trip to the doctor. Then Gungahlin mother Therese Bean noticed her son was losing weight. 

Nicholas, 23, who has non-verbal autism, began spending all day lying on the couch and struggled to keep food down. A lump the "size of a 50 cent coin" appeared under his chin. Eventually, it became difficult for him to breathe.

What happens to children who move off the autism spectrum? Clinical follow-up study.



There is controversial information on outcome of school age individuals who lose the diagnosis of autism and achieve “optimal outcome” (OO). The present study assessed the autism symptoms and other psychiatric disorders in a group of children with a past history of autism.

Urgent need for cause of death reporting system for Australians with intellectual disability


The deaths of more than 700 Australian adults with an intellectual disability could have been avoided with more appropriate health care and monitoring, a UNSW study has revealed.

Research by UNSW has found that while Down syndrome itself doesn’t cause death, it is still coded that way in a flawed classification system. Photo: Shutterstock.

A total of 732 Australian adults with an intellectual disability died in NSW over six years, many from causes or conditions that could have been avoided with more appropriate health care and monitoring.

Clue on why boys more prone to autism

Sarah Wiedersehn

Scientists have found that brains with a "typically male" structure, even among women, are linked to a higher risk of autism.

A German study of high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), also known as Asperger syndrome, found females with more typical male brain anatomy were about three times more likely to have ASD.

Earlier intervention, more teacher training needed for inclusive education, expert says

Between five and 10 per cent of students have learning disabilities, Young says

Ryan Cooke

Teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador need more preparatory time and more training for inclusive education to work, says an expert in the field.

Gabrielle Young, a Memorial University assistant professor with a focus on special education, told CBC the province's inclusion model is rooted in good intentions, but needs better implementation.

What “Counts” for Autism Has Been Dropping: Is That Good?

David Rettew M.D.

New research confirms a drop in severity for autism diagnoses

The steady increase over the past several decades in the percentage of children who meet criteria for an autistic spectrum disorder has been widely reported.  From rates of around 1 in 5000 children in 1975, the latest estimates from the Center for Disease Control are 1 in 68. This rise has triggered alarm bells in many circles as people search for and speculate about the reasons behind the increase, including the thoroughly discredited hypothesis regarding vaccines. 

Rethinking Autism in the Workplace

Wendy Williams

Australia needs to “rethink” autism in the workplace, according to a not-for-profit disability employment organisation, involved in a world-first initiative to employ autistic adults in specialist animal care roles.

EPIC Assist, an organisation which helps people with disability to prepare for, find and maintain meaningful employment, said there were major problems with the way society viewed disability.

Why people with intellectual disabilities are dying avoidable deaths

Kate Aubusson

Maureen McIlquham drifts between caressing memories and hellish grief when she thinks of her daughter, Michelle.

Michelle wanted to be a copy typist. She longed to have a boyfriend and fall in love, like her sister.

Michelle 'deserved the same treatment'

Maureen McIlquham's daughter died of meningitis after her condition was overlooked by medical staff.

Children with suspected disabilities enduring 12-month wait for diagnosis in parts of Sydney

Stephanie Dalzell

Children with suspected disabilities are waiting up to a year for a diagnosis in parts of Sydney, leaving parents at "breaking point" and doctors accusing the NSW Government of dropping the ball.

Key points:

  • In Campbelltown, on average, children had to wait 12 months before being assessed
  • Parents cannot access disability funding before their child is assessed
  • Experts say treatment is crucial early in development

A diagnosis, typically made by a specialised team including a paediatrician, occupational therapist, speech pathologist and social worker, is required for a child with a disability to access funding.


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