News/Announcements

Comedy routine On The Spectrum sees mother of child with autism dumped from roles

George Roberts

Brisbane performer Nikki Osborne has been dumped from speaking at a disability expo because her stand-up comedy routine makes light of what it is like to be a parent of an autistic child.

Ms Osborne faced a backlash even before the act's debut performance.

She said her comedy routine On The Spectrum is about how parents handle children who can be both brilliant and challenged at the same time.

Raising a happy child with autism and staying happy yourself

Lisa Mayoh

When a child is diagnosed with autism, a family is changed forever. Everything is different. Everyone is learning to live a “new normal” that can take years to adjust to, and decades to master.

Careers, relationships, travel, goals: everything is put on hold while the child — their treatment, progress and needs — comes first, as most would agree they should.

But to raise a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), parents too must consider their own happiness.

Victoria: Art Competition

VPSC is holding an art competition for people with disability. We’d love for you to help us promote it.

The winning artwork will feature on the Victorian public sector’s first ever Disability Employment Action Plan. VPSC is developing the action plan in close consultation with government departments, agencies and offices. The plan is a collective commitment by the sector to provide flexible and sustainable employment for people of all abilities, lifting representation to 6% by 2020.

There is ample expertise in autism that is just waiting to be tapped

Judy Bewer

Ill-informed debate over eligibility and arbitrary line-drawing through the autism spectrum is the result of years of neglect of ­autism research and a failure to engage with those who had the ­answers. It was a perfect storm waiting to happen, and the gales have now blown in.

When our son was diagnosed as autistic in 1996, my husband was the deputy prime minister of Australia. Socio-economic privilege? We were definitely at the top of the list. I left the pediatrician’s room with a diagnosis, a screaming three-year-old child, a three-month-old baby and a photo­copied A4 piece of paper with stick figures on it. That was it. I was on my own to negotiate the rest. We are a fortunate family, ­educated and connected, with ­access to support and resources beyond many, and yet it took every ounce of our being to create a pathway for our son to find his place in society. Multiple schools, mental health episodes, hospital stays, bullying and all that goes with being ­extraordinary in a ­society that ­prioritises the ordinary.

How Kaspar the robot is helping autistic students to socialise

Barbara Miller

"My favourite pizza is pepperoni pizza."

Kaspar has introduced himself to nine-year-old Joshua Whelan.

"Mine is cheese, feta and olives," said Joshua, encountering the tiny robot for the first time.

"Sounds yummy."

Kaspar is a moving, talking humanoid developed specifically for children on the autism spectrum, now being trialled for the first time in Australia.

Is the Definition of Autism Too Broad?

John Elder Robison

An answer to the psychologists who suggest it is . . .

Late at night, when I’m alone, I sometimes ponder what it means to be autistic.  Do I experience sounds and smells differently from an allistic (non autistic) person?  Scientific studies suggest I do.  If that is the case, whose perception is correct – mine, theirs, or both?  At one time, doctors assumed the allistic view of the world was the correct one, and autistic perspectives were wrong or delusional.

We can’t guarantee places for autism, says NDIA boss

The man heading the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme “cannot guarantee” that specific levels of autism will remain on a list of conditions that gain automatic entry to the program, just weeks after the agency accidentally published a document that changed access guidelines.

Rob De Luca, the chief executive of the National Disability ­Insurance Agency, was grilled in Senate estimates yesterday about the mistaken update revealing a secret internal strategy codenamed Project Greenlight, which has existed within the organisation for about two months, aimed at eligibility criteria.

Autism: full confusion spectrum

Around the world right now ­researchers are beginning to wonder whether the concept of an ­autism spectrum is a mistake.

The “thought experiment” was floated by renowned developmental psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen ahead of a global ­research conference on autism in The Netherlands last month.

What if, he proposed, intro­ducing the spectrum of disorders under one umbrella in the latest diagnosis bible was a well-­intentioned but ultimately misguided move?

NDIS could tighten access for autism

Work is under way to look at conditions around automatic entry to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Daniel McCulloch

Senior officials from the National Disability Insurance Scheme are not ruling out tightening access to people with autism trying to access the $22 billion program.

Chief executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Robert De Luca, has confirmed work is under way to consider conditions around automatic entry to the scheme.

'Profoundly irresponsible': How the NDIS is failing the autistic

Madeleine Ryan

I am autistic and much of the terminology that’s used to describe autism often feels confusing, and disempowering.

Although the subject is frequently in the news and being talked about the diagnostics coined by doctors, professors and scientists in relation to it are often disconnected from my life, and the lives of autistic adults and children. All the puzzling terms, labels and categories can make it harder for us to receive help when we need it and harder for the rest of the world to understand us.

response to Angela Shanahan’s misguided article

Heidi Brandis

In response to Angela Shanahan’s misguided article in the Weekend Australian, I wrote this to the editor of the paper last night:

Dear Editor

Hoping you can assist - I’m in a quandary as to which of Angela Shanahan’s myriad misguided, incorrect, offensive and ignorant comments to address first? (“On spectrum of needs, NDIS should axe ASD”, 26 May).

Let’s address each one:

On spectrum of needs, NDIS should axe ASD

Warning: it is best to not read the following. This article contains factual errors, prejudice and poor journalism. It is on this website as part of the history of autism in Australian media ... and to show the level of profound ignorance about ASD in much of the Australian community. For example, the claim below that "the vast majority are on low levels of the spectrum" is contrary to available data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing most people diagnosed with ASD have sever or profound disability. She's a serial offender: see http://a4.org.au/node/1218


In 2013 I wrote an Inquirer piece asking: What are the practical economic restraints on disability services in a society with an ever expanding notion of disability? Where do we draw the line? Who will and who won’t be eligible for assistance under the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

‘My son gave himself a concussion from banging his head. Yet he’s still “not autistic enough”.’

Jessie Burns

Last week, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) removed Autism ‘Level 2’ from its list of disabilities, which are “likely” to receive funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme that is slowly replacing the Helping Children with Autism Package across Australia.

Autism screening tool may not detect the condition in some women

Rachel Moseley, Bournemouth University and Julie Kirkby, Bournemouth University

Diagnosing autism is expensive and time consuming, so a screening tool is used to filter out those people who are unlikely to be diagnosed as autistic. This is all well and good, but our latest research suggests that a widely used screening tool may be biased towards diagnosing more men than women.

Action Must Be Taken to Stop Bullying of Students with Disability

Stephanie Gotlib

Unfortunately, bullying of students with disability, including abuse and violence at school is not a new, unusual or unknown experience, writes Children and Young People with Disability Australia CEO Stephanie Gotlib.

Many in our community were rightly sickened by the footage which emerged recently of a young boy with disability being violently assaulted by peers outside a secondary school in Melbourne.

Defining moment for National Disability ­Insurance Scheme

Rob De Luca isn’t ready to speak with you yet.

The young, newly installed chief executive in charge of the $22 billion National Disability ­Insurance Scheme was adamant he didn’t want a public email when he took over the reins in August last year.

He uses a made-up first name, keeping the address off the books because he doesn’t want ­direct emails from “normal mums and dads, agency staff and participants”, according to one disgruntled staff member.

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