News/Announcements

Oliver's family had to pay thousands of dollars for him to be diagnosed with autism, or wait two years for public therapy

Ellen Coulter

Stephanie Maass was told her son Oliver needed occupational therapy and speech therapy when he was just 19 months old.

Key points:

  • Stephanie Maass's family paid $4,000 for her son to receive private occupational and speech therapy to avoid the public system's waitlist
  • Her son, Oliver, was diagnosed with autism and was eligible for funding through the NDIS
  • The NDIS rolled out in Tasmania in July, with 10,600 people identified as eligible

Young Perth man with autism rips it up as he finds his business niche

A 21-year-old autistic man from Perth has expanded into his first official business premises after finding his calling in life: professional paper shredding.

Brandon Tomic is nonverbal – he can speak for the purposes of requesting something, but not hold full conversations, and so his mother Simone Tomic asked if she could speak for him in this report.

After Brandon finished school at 18, Simone and her husband Rob wanted him to be able to work like any other adult.

Darkest moments: Why two mothers are considering giving up their children

It’s not as if Deborah Frith wants to put her eight-year-old son Jacob in a group home. She loves him deeply, and would give anything to protect him. But looking after a boy who has autism and severely challenging, often violent, behaviours has pushed the sole parent to her breaking point.

“I absolutely adore my child and I'd move hell and high water to keep him,” she says. “But it’s too much to sustain without the correct support. It’s a very unfortunate situation where you’re forced to suggest the things that come to you in your darkest moments.”

TIME 2019 Person of the Year: Greta Thunberg

Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes and Justin Worland

Greta Thunberg sits in silence in the cabin of the boat that will take her across the Atlantic Ocean. Inside, there’s a cow skull hanging on the wall, a faded globe, a child’s yellow raincoat. Outside, it’s a tempest: rain pelts the boat, ice coats the decks, and the sea batters the vessel that will take this slight girl, her father and a few companions from Virginia to Portugal. For a moment, it’s as if Thunberg were the eye of a hurricane, a pool of resolve at the center of swirling chaos. In here, she speaks quietly. Out there, the entire natural world seems to amplify her small voice, screaming along with her.

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt. “That is all we are saying.”

Report paints scathing picture of NDIS workforce failures

A report has painted a grim picture of the life of a disability care worker under the NDIS and questions whether the scheme will be able to achieve  the historic social reform it promised.

The report from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work says the NDIS has fundamentally changed the nature of work and employment in the disability sector – and not necessarily for the better.

New Plan To Support Victoria’s Autism Community

The Andrews Labor Government has released a five-year plan to provide autistic Victorians greater opportunities for choice and community participation.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan today launched the Victorian Autism Plan with representatives of the Autism Plan Advisory Group who contributed to the plan’s development.

The Victorian Autism Plan sets out actions to improve the lives of autistic Victorians and their families and carers, backed by $7.1 million in funding.

The Senate: Select Committee on Autism

Media Release

5 December 2019

A new Senate Select Committee on Autism has been established. The committee is made up of politicians who will look into the services, support and life outcomes for autistic people in Australia.

What will the committee look into?

The committee will look at a wide range of issues relating to autism – including diagnosis, education, health including mental health, employment, justice and rights, and housing.

Major parliamentary inquiry into autism

Matt Coughlan

Autism will be the subject of a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry looking at services, support and life outcomes for people on the spectrum.

The Senate on Wednesday established a select committee on autism which will look at the need for a national strategy.

Liberal senator and committee chair Hollie Hughes, whose 10-year-old son Fred has autism, said the inquiry would be the first of its kind.

Push for inquiry via Senate Select Committee on Autism

A motion to form a Select Committee on Autism is expected to pass the Senate later today.

The terms of reference were developed by Centre Alliance Senator, Stirling Griff, in conjunction with members of the Australian Autism Alliance.

The wide-ranging inquiry will look at issues including approaches to diagnosis, the availability and appropriateness of services including in health and mental health, education and employment, the adequacy of the NDIS, and the prevalence of misdiagnosis and any gender bias in assessment and services.

How a neuroscientist's infant son revolutionized our understanding of autism

Lorenz Wagner

In observing his son Kai, neuroscientist Henry Markram upended the dominant theory of the autistic mind

Henry Markram, the neuroscientist behind the billion-dollar Blue Brain Project to build a supercomputer model of the brain, has set the goal of decoding all disturbances of the mind within a generation. This quest is personal for him. The driving force behind his grand ambition has been his son Kai, who has autism. Raising Kai made Henry Markram question all that he thought he knew about neuroscience, and then inspired his groundbreaking research that would upend the conventional wisdom about autism, leading to his now-famous theory of the Intense World Syndrome. 

'It doesn't make sense': More than 600 kindy kids suspended last year

Jordan Baker

More than 600 kindergarten students were suspended from NSW primary schools last year, raising concerns small children are being sent home as punishment for undiagnosed disorders such as autism or ADHD.

Figures from the NSW Department of Education show the number of kindy students suspended rose from 398 in 2014 to 435 in 2016, then jumped to 514 in 2017. Last year, the figure reached 626.

It's 25 years since we redefined autism – here's what we've learnt

Andrew Whitehouse

It’s 25 years since the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) was published. The manual is the clinical “bible” that defines the criteria for the diagnosis of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions, and was a landmark document for autism spectrum disorder.

'Minimal progress': State sued for 'abandoning' autistic boy's education

The mother of a 17-year-old autistic boy has sued the state of Victoria over a government school’s alleged "abandonment" of her son’s education and failure to teach him the curriculum.

The case, which could have implications for thousands of families who believe their child has been excluded from learning due to a disability, is listed for a three-week hearing in the Federal Court next year.

The mother, whom The Age has chosen not to name, argues the school’s failure “to put intensive effort into his education” and instead fill her son's school days with “non-academic activities” has left him effectively illiterate, innumerate and unemployable.

Disability royal commission hears children made to sit in own urine, 'belittled' for needing to go to the bathroom

By Sofie Wainwright

A parent of children with disabilities and experience in the education system has told the disability royal commission students are being denied access to normal school facilities inside and outside the classroom.

Key points:

  • Witness AAC says one of her children was hit with his own hat by a teacher
  • Witness AAC says another of her children was told he was stupid after asking for instructions to repeated
  • She says she has seen children "dragged" down stairs and subjected to other restrictive practices

Mum of five's battle for disabled children

Robyn Wuth

Chair of the disability royal commission, Ronald Sackville QC, is hearing submissions in Queensland.

The mother of five disabled children says one was so scared of school he was given a photo of his mum and dad to take with him every day as a promise that he would come home.

She said some days her middle child's anxiety was so bad he would sit terrified in the car and refuse to go through the school gates, the disability commission was told during public hearings in Townsville on Tuesday.

'It was nasty': Children with disability bullied, belittled at school

Judith Ireland

A mother of five children with disabilities has told the disability abuse royal commission that one of her sons took a knife to school because he was so scared of bullies, while her daughter was belittled by a teacher for needing extra toilet breaks.

The woman told a hearing in Townsville on Tuesday that it was "absolutely exhausting and frustrating" trying to get schools to make changes so children with disability could be included.

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