International Autism Research Society Denounces Trump's Immigration Restrictions

Emily Willingham 

In a strongly worded statement dated February 1, the board of directors of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) has expressed its “unanimous denunciation” of what it calls “restrictive immigration policies” as laid out in what is likely Donald Trump’s most controversial executive order (EO) to date. The complete text was posted to INSAR’s website January 31.

‘Our kids won’t succeed without help’: Mums isolated in regional Australia with autistic children

GEMMA Foxall and Liz Martin were teaching colleagues, then friends, then found out within a week of each other that their sons had severe autism.

Living in the relatively isolated town of Bunbury, three hours south of Perth, the two mothers quickly found they had to rely on each other even more.

They quickly discovered that without constant fighting on their part, simply living in regional Australia could be devastating for their children.

Catastrophic Misuse of Inappropriate IQ Tests with People with ASD and Little or No Speech

The Anne McDonald Centre made an alarming submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Services for People with ASD.

It alleges inappropriate testing of non-verbal children, many of whom have ASD ... and subsequently, inappropriate and ineffective teaching in Victorian schools.

The submission can be downloaded from

Children in group homes face criminal charges for breaking coffee cups, says report

Legal Aid Victoria finds residential care providers call police to deal with behavioural issues of children in their care
Children in group homes in Victoria are being charged with criminal damage and detained in custody for incidents as minor as breaking coffee cups and throwing a pen at an air-conditioning unit, a new report has found.

Rise in autism blamed on clinicians diagnosing mild symptoms, study finds

Andrew Taylor

The 20-fold increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism in the past 30 years is due to clinicians diagnosing less severe autism in children, a study has found.

And the so-called "epidemic" is putting pressure on the public purse, potentially risking the sustainability of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

One of the biggest policy reforms in generations is about to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians.

FaCS worker Lennard Michael Downes faces court accused of assaulting disabled boy, 9, at government-run home in the Illawarra

An Illawarra FaCS worker accused of beating a mute autistic boy was brought undone when the child's parents grew suspicious and sent him to respite care with a tape recorder concealed in his bag, a court has heard.

Police will allege disability support worker Lennard Michael Downes, 35, can be heard verbally and physically abusing the boy on the recording, which was taken over a two day period at a government-run care centre in November last year.

NDIS: Federal Government announces independent review of National Disability Insurance Scheme

Henry Belot

The Federal Government has announced an independent review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to examine overall costs, value for money and its long-term sustainability.

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the Productivity Commission review on Friday afternoon with a position paper to be released in May, followed by a report in September.

Disability Minister’s office disappoints on autism

Media Release

The response from Disability Minister Christian Porter MP’s office on increasing autism diagnoses is very disappointing according to Bob Buckley, A4 Convenor. Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia or A4 is the national grass-roots advocacy group for autism spectrum disorder.

Recently, A4 obtained data from Government and reported that the number of children diagnoses with autism continues to increase at a significant rate, as it has for several decades. In June 2016, there were 73,166 (>2.4%) Australian children aged 5-15 years inclusive who had their formal autism diagnosis registered with the Commonwealth Government. For this age group, autism is now more common than intellectual disability.

Large study shows self-injury common among children with autism


About one in four children with autism hit, scratch or otherwise hurt themselves, suggests an analysis of school and medical records for more than 8,000 children in the United States. Children who engage in self-injury tend to have mood and behavioral challenges, as well as cognitive impairment.

No respite for mothers caring for children with a disability

Peter Barrett

Any mother of a pre-school age child knows that life can be intense. There's the bathing, feeding, toiletting, playing, comforting, trips to emergency, more comforting – not to mention the constant funk of niggling sleep deprivation. In most families, though, this phase of life eventually passes.

But for mothers who care for children with a disability, the job is unrelenting.  In Australia, one in 12 children have a disability and in 95 per cent of cases, the mother is the primary carer.

Compulsions, anxiety replace autism in some children


Most children who lose their autism diagnosis develop related psychiatric conditions, according to a new study1. The findings suggest that doctors should continue to monitor children once diagnosed with autism.

An estimated 9 percent of children with autism achieve a so-called ‘optimal outcome.’ But nearly all of these children years later develop related conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, the new study suggests.

Perth mental health experts call for closure of seclusion rooms

MENTAL health experts are calling for an end to the use of seclusion rooms at WA hospitals as it emerged one child was locked up for 12 hours.

A report by WA’s chief psychiatrist Nathan Gibson shows children with mental health problems were routinely locked up and restrained last year.

In a five-month period, there were 40 seclusion episodes for 20 children, with 75 per cent involving girls. Ten kids were held for less than an hour, 11 for up to two hours and fewer than five patients were held for an average seven hours.



For decades, the autism community has known that autism affects the entire family. Biological parents have been included in autism studies to examine where genetic mutations come from, but always with an eye for understanding the affected individual. This year in research saw a much bigger focus on family members of those with autism, particularly siblings. The goal of these studies is to understand the genetic and biological nature of autism so that help can be provided not just to those with a diagnosis, but to family members.

Many studies focused on what is known as the broader autism phenotype, previously explored in biological parents. The broader autism phenotype refers to some behavioral features of autism, including those in emotion, language, and social skills that do not meet the level of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Rather, they have been termed anything from “intermediate” autism to “a hint of autism.” Joe Piven and James Harris hypothesized this year that Bruno Bettleheim may have tragically misinterpreted these features, in the absence of a true understanding of autism, as “refrigerator mothers.” Clinicians have urged scientists to note these symptoms in a way that does not create a new diagnostic category and noting certain social, personality and language characteristics in family members has been crucial for nailing down the underlying biology.

A different way of thinking

Words by Mark White, Pictures by Nick Cubbin and Damien Pleming

What if the world stopped seeing autism as abnormal? Many people with Asperger's syndrome or autism embrace their condition. They seek respect for 'neurodiversity', not a cure.

How to dispute a Centrelink debt

A4 editor: The following is not specifically about autism or disability ... it is here to help/inform any autistic adults who are having issues with Centrelink's cruel new system for scamming/fabricating debts from the most vulnerable.

Sally WhyteJournalist

Does Centrelink think you owe money that you don't think you owe? Here is what to do next.

Centrelink’s new automatic debt generation computer system is generating 20,000 debt notices a week, despite more and more stories emerging about obvious problems with the system.


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