News/Announcements

Family targeted by son’s violent outbursts left scared in their own home

Ally Foster

MAX has always been prone to violent outbursts as a result of severe autism, but now he is getting too strong for his parents to control.

IT’S a gut-wrenching choice. Do you risk the safety of your family, or make the heartbreaking decision give up one of your children because of actions that are beyond his control.

Victorian parents Liz and Sean Whelan, both 43, may have to face that dilemma if they can’t find a way to keep the rest of their children safe from one of their son’s violent outbursts.

Teen arrested after spanner attack on 14-year-old with autism

Simone Fox Koob

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in relation to an attack on a teenager with autism who was beaten with spanners outside a Melbourne high school.

Police are investigating the assault on Quinn Lahiff-Jenkins, 14, after video footage emerged of him being pinned to the ground and repeatedly punched in the head outside Northcote High School on Tuesday afternoon.

The investigation is ongoing, police say, and they are yet to speak to anyone else involved in relation to the incident.

Melbourne boy with autism attacked by spanner-wielding teens outside Northcote school

James Hancock

The mother of a boy with autism who was assaulted with spanners outside a Melbourne school wants police to charge his teenage attackers.

Quinn Lahiff-Jenkins, 14, was attacked outside Northcote High School, in the city's inner-north, on Tuesday afternoon.

They had armed themselves with spanners and turned on another boy when he tried to help the victim.

Mother’s incredible reaction to her autistic son’s alleged bashing prompts huge reaction

The mother of a 14-year-old autistic boy who was allegedly bashed by a group of teenage thugs claims her son was targeted after standing up for a friend who was being bullied.

A 15-year-old boy has since been charged by police.

He’s been charged with affray, recklessly causing injury and intentionally causing injury.

USA: Raising Connor

Liz Kowalczyk and Photos by Craig F. Walker

He is a boy easy to love, and also a heart-testing puzzle to those who love him. He longs for home, but home has become somewhere hard to thrive. And yet, beset by autism and other issues, aided by family and teachers, Connor Biscan is learning to rise.

This time he had to go. There was no time to think about where.

Is it Time to Give Up on a Single Diagnostic Label for Autism?

Simon Baron-Cohen

That was the ruling by the editors of the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 2013, but it remains controversial

Five years ago, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) established autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as an umbrella term when it published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the primary guide to taxonomy in psychiatry. In creating this single diagnostic category, the APA also removed the subgroup called Asperger syndrome that had been in place since 1994.

Autism surge triggers rationing of NDIS services

Rick Morton

The early-intervention strategy for children with autism in the $22 billion NDIS is in disarray, and ­rationing has been introduced for services worth $300 million a year after 30,000 kids were granted ­access.

Worldwide best practice for autism intervention in young children, known as Applied Behaviour Analysis, requires a minimum of 20 hours of one-on-one therapy a week, but under the ­National Disability Insurance Scheme most of the youngest children receive about half of that, with packages between $10,000 and $15,000 a year.

British Film Institute apologises after woman with Asperger's 'dragged' from cinema for laughing

The British Film Institute has apologised after a woman with Asperger's syndrome was "forcibly dragged out of" their London cinema for "laughing too much".

Key points:

  • Tamsin Parker shouted "I'm sorry I have Asperger's" as security staff removed her
  • Some audience members applauded, while some protested, with many walking out
  • BFI apologised and said it was investigating the incident

Photography helping 4yo with autism socialise with others, communicate with family

Patrick Williams

When Max was diagnosed with high-functioning autism a year ago, it just made sense to mum Danielle Pritchard.

The three-year-old Brisbane boy had been having troubles with his speech, anxiety, and social skills among other small quirks.

Ms Pritchard knew just how important early intervention would be. As a teacher, she's worked with children similar to her own son before.

Outsourcing NDIS contact centres to Serco 'an accident waiting to happen'

Disability rights campaigners say company’s poor history abroad and lack of experience in disability should have precluded it from role

Disability rights groups, Labor and the Greens have slammed a decision to hire the multinational outsourcing giant Serco in a key role administering the national disability insurance scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced on Friday afternoon that Serco, a company with a chequered corporate history, would help run its contact centres under a two-year contract.

Special needs group pays tribute to 11yo Sydney boy with autism killed by train after escaping from respite care

bunch of flower lying on a cement step

A disability care service provider says it is cooperating with a police investigation into the death of a young boy with severe autism who was hit and killed by a train in Sydney's south.

The 11-year-old boy died after he escaped from a respite care facility at Oatley just after 7:00pm yesterday.

His carers alerted authorities and a police search was set up involving Polair and the dog squad.

The boy's body was found at the Oatley train station two hours later.

Police confirmed on Monday morning that the child, who was non-verbal, was hit by a train.

Can Intervention Change the Brain in Autism?

Katherine K.M. Stavropoulos Ph.D.

Research explores whether intervention can change the brain in autism.

I want to start with blog entry by saying Happy National Autism Awareness Month!

This month, we are going to talk about whether behavioral interventions and/or therapies for autism can change the brain. In 2017, I wrote a review paper (link is external) about this topic and wanted to discuss it here as well. There is a large amount of evidence that behavioral interventions can change behavior in autism. Most interventions focus on social behaviors with the goal of increasing social communication (such as eye contact, initiating social interactions, being responsive to social behaviors from others, following another person’s eye gaze, etc). It’s great that these interventions have been shown to improve behavior, but since the scientific community generally agrees that autism is a brain-based disorder, studies have started measuring whether these interventions can change the brain. 

Natalie Jones is glad to be in Inverell boosting our services in autism care

Natalie Jones, speech pathologist/senior clinician at Autism Australia

I’m very proud to be commencing two new education and healthcare services here in the Inverell area – the first helping individuals with autism under the name Autism Australia, and the other a general speech pathology service – about which I’ll explain further down.

My partner Simon and I recently moved here to take over the running of the family farm. He grew up here, whereas I am new to Inverell, coming  originally from Gippsland in Victoria. So still a rural upbringing, but quite different country. I’m getting used to the less dairy cows and bigger brown snakes!

Graduates with autism recognised for unique skill set, given new opportunities in public sector

A group of graduates from a specialised autism training program have left the dole queue and secured their first jobs inside the department responsible for handing out their disability benefits.

Key points:

  • Graduates of Dandelion Program land full-time jobs in public sector
  • Julie Anderson says program is "best thing that's ever happened" for her son Jack
  • Minister Michael Keenan says program "a win-win"

Hans Asperger 'actively cooperated with Nazi child euthanasia program', study finds

Hans Asperger's name may become "mud" and be scrapped from the medical lexicon following new evidence he was an active Nazi collaborator, an autism history expert says.

Key points:

  • New study finds clinician cooperated with child euthanasia program
  • Finds Asperger benefited from relationship with Nazis
  • Challenges long-running narrative about Asperger

A new study, published in the journal of Molecular Autism this week by medical historian Herwig Czech, was the result of eight years of research and drew on previously unseen documents, including Asperger's personnel files and the clinical assessments he wrote on his patients.

A Look Inside An Autism-Friendly Workplace And Culture

Michael Bernick

"The Seasons or Orchard" tapestry by Morris & Co. 1890. William Morris in the Victorian period sought to create new forms of craft and workplace culture. William Morris Society.

Last week, I was in New York and had the opportunity morning to tour a true “autism-friendly workplace”—one that differs not only from most workplaces today but also from most workplaces that describe themselves as autism-friendly. I think you’ll be interested, whether you have a connection to autism or not.

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