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Five points of contention

16th Nov 2010

Fundamental changes are taking place in the area of mental health. Amanda Sheppeard looks at the top five controversies identified by leaders in the field. Amanda Sheppeard all articles by this author

THE EXPERTS

Professor Ian Hickie

Executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, professor of psychiatry at the University of Sydney, and an NHMRC Australian Medical Research Fellow.

Professor Gordon Parker

Executive director of the Black Dog Institute, research director of the Mood Disorders Unit, and Scientia Professor at the University of NSW.

Terrace man sells his skin

BY ALISON BRANLEY

Forget bus stop seats, a Raymond Terrace man is selling advertising space on his skin in an effort to raise $1 million.

Tim Christian, 26, said every square centimetre of his body was up for grabs by businesses looking to get their brand permanently tattooed on his walking billboard.

The father-of-three is doing it to raise money to improve Hunter autism services after struggling to get help for his four-year-old son, Connor.

Two year anniversary of Helping Children with Autism package

Jan McLucas, Jenny Macklin posted Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Today marks the two year anniversary of the Australian Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package, an initiative aimed at providing early intervention services to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In the two years since its introduction, more than 10,000 Australian children aged up to six years old have accessed more than 220,000 early intervention services through the Government’s autism package.

Autistic teen loved water, couldn't swim

BY LORETTA JOHNSTON, 27 Oct, 2010

AN autistic teenager who went missing from Clifton Beach in March 2008 grew up near a beach and loved the water, the Hobart Coroners Court has heard.

Jackson Kelty, 15, and his state carer Brendan Dermody went missing from the popular surf beach near Hobart on March 15, 2008, where it is presumed they drowned.

Jackson's mother, Peta Kelty, said that her son loved to paddle in shallow water although he could not swim.

"The minute he hit the sand he'd kick his shoes off and run into the water," she said.

Charges possible over autistic teenager's death

BY PHILLIP THOMSON 15 Oct, 2010

An inquest into the death of a profoundly autistic Canberra teenager at Canberra Hospital in 2008 has heard that a person may have committed an indictable offence that led to the tragedy.

NSW Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon yesterday suspended the inquest, which began at Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday, to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the person in question.

Jack Sullivan, 18, died on February 18, 2008, at Canberra Hospital.

The economic value of informal care in 2010

The foreword to this report says "the value of informal care has increased to exceed $40 billion per annum in 2010, 33% higher than in 2005". It says this is based on $31 per hour replacement costs. Probably, some of the value is estimated based on conjugate/centre-based care - so better care would be more expensive.

This report is not autism/ASD specific ... but is contains valuable and relevant material.

Alternative Biomedical Treatments for Autism: How Good Is the Evidence?

Research on only one treatment is rigorous enough to earn an A grade



Image: Photograph by Joi, courtesy Flickr

By Nancy Shute October 7, 2010

Parents who research treatments for autism are confronted with a bewildering array of options, almost all of which have never been tested for safety and effectiveness. Organizations like The Cochrane Collaboration, which reviews the quality of evidence for medical treatments, are putting more effort into evaluating popular alternative treatments.

So far, the most comprehensive review of alternative autism treatments comes from two pediatricians: Susan Hyman of the University of Rochester School of Medicine Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong and Susan Levy, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Their 2008 analysis gave each treatment a letter grade for the quality of the research conducted up to that point; the mark, however, is not a ranking of the treatment's safety or effectiveness.

Girls with autism or ADHD symptoms not taken seriously

When girls with symptoms of autism or ADHD seek professional medical help, their problems are often played down or misinterpreted, and there is a real risk that they will not get the help or support they need. As such, more training is needed in this area, particularly in the public sector, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg.

Socioeconomic Inequality in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from a U.S. Cross-Sectional Study

Maureen S. Durkin, et. al.

Abstract

Background

This study was designed to evaluate the hypothesis that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the United States is positively associated with socioeconomic status (SES).

Methods

Autism coal link study stalled by government

Debra Jopson October 4, 2010

A researcher who has found strong evidence that autism is caused by mercury poisoning has been refused access to data that could point to emissions from coal-fired power stations.

The director of the Swinburne Autism Bio-Research Initiative, David Austin, said the data on autism incidence by postcode could quickly answer the question of whether mercury emissions from power stations are implicated in babies and infants developing the disorder.

Mother branded mentally ill after complaint

Louise Hall, September 30, 2010

A MOTHER who raised serious concerns about the care of her intellectually disabled daughter at a group home was taken to the Guardianship Tribunal where the state government tried to strip her parental rights.

Documents obtained under freedom of information show disability bureaucrats tried to portray the mother as mentally ill and unfit to make decisions about her daughter, then 19.

Autism school study 'the right step'


BY MONIQUE EBRINGTON — 28 Sep, 2010 12:00 AM
WESTERN suburbs parents have welcomed state government funding for a feasibility study for an autistic school catering for prep to year 12 students.

At present, Western Autistic School has campuses in Deer Park and Niddrie, but children can attend for only four years before going into mainstream or special schools.

Altona North resident Mark Websdale said a recent meeting with Education Minister Bronwyn Pike was a step towards a new school.

Mr Websdale is a member of Autism Schools Action, a group of parents in the western suburbs who have been lobbying MPs on the issue for several years.

"We have been quite frustrated over a long period of time to get no apparent result," Mr Websdale said.

Autism’s First Child

As new cases of autism have exploded in recent years—some form of the condition affects about one in 110 children today—efforts have multiplied to understand and accommodate the condition in childhood. But children with autism will become adults with autism, some 500,000 of them in this decade alone. What then? Meet Donald Gray Triplett, 77, of Forest, Mississippi. He was the first person ever diagnosed with autism.

Parents gave up autistic son

September 29, 2010 Carol Nader

AFTER five years of struggling with the relentless demands of a little boy with severe autism, Anna finally snapped. She drove him to a hospital and asked child protection workers to meet her there and take him.

They came and collected her boy. She returned home to a strange quiet in the house. She thought it would be for the best, that he'd be somewhere safe.

Principals slam resources for disabled

Jewel Topsfield; September 15, 2010

VICTORIAN principals are fed up with monster workloads and the state government's failure to properly support students with disabilities.

Less than three months from a state election, a survey shows that principals' assessments of both the state government and the Education Department are the most negative since 2005.

Unsustainable workloads dominate their concerns about their personal situations - principals work an average of 59 hours a week - while the lack of resources for disadvantaged students is their chief gripe about their schools.

Autistic kids 'caged' at school

STUDENTS with intellectual disabilities are being "caged" inside a fenced-off area at a Hobart school in a security measure parents and advocates have slammed as inhumane.

There have also been reports of another Tasmanian school making its special-needs students wear bright red hats so they can be easily counted within the school yard.

Action for Tasmanian Autistic Children secretary Roger Law said several parents have complained to him about their autistic children who attend Howrah Primary School being confined at recess and lunch each school day in a fenced area away from the other children.

The school has about 10 students with special needs, mainly autism.

Mums' disability parking victory

CARERS of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities have won the right to apply for disability parking permits thanks to a campaign by two northeast mums.

Helen Howson, of Modbury North, and Allison Dix, of Banksia Park who between them have three autistic boys successfully lobbied the Federal Government to have non-physical disabilities recognised in a new Australian Disability Parking Scheme.

Autistic student sues over test

Jewel Topsfield September 10, 2010

A 17-year-old student with autism is suing the Education Department for discrimination because his teacher refused to modify questions in his maths tests.

Lewis Walton, who received an A-plus in general maths and B-plus in maths methods in year 11, said his scores plunged in VCE specialist maths because his language difficulties meant he struggled to interpret open-ended questions that related to real-life situations.

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