'We almost lost him': Canberrans with special needs turned away from hospital

Sherryn Groch

As new research reveals Australians with intellectual disabilities are dying avoidable deaths, two Canberra carers share their own 'horror' stories.

It started with just a runny nose and a routine trip to the doctor. Then Gungahlin mother Therese Bean noticed her son was losing weight. 

Nicholas, 23, who has non-verbal autism, began spending all day lying on the couch and struggled to keep food down. A lump the "size of a 50 cent coin" appeared under his chin. Eventually, it became difficult for him to breathe.

What happens to children who move off the autism spectrum? Clinical follow-up study.



There is controversial information on outcome of school age individuals who lose the diagnosis of autism and achieve “optimal outcome” (OO). The present study assessed the autism symptoms and other psychiatric disorders in a group of children with a past history of autism.

Urgent need for cause of death reporting system for Australians with intellectual disability


The deaths of more than 700 Australian adults with an intellectual disability could have been avoided with more appropriate health care and monitoring, a UNSW study has revealed.

Research by UNSW has found that while Down syndrome itself doesn’t cause death, it is still coded that way in a flawed classification system. Photo: Shutterstock.

A total of 732 Australian adults with an intellectual disability died in NSW over six years, many from causes or conditions that could have been avoided with more appropriate health care and monitoring.

Clue on why boys more prone to autism

Sarah Wiedersehn

Scientists have found that brains with a "typically male" structure, even among women, are linked to a higher risk of autism.

A German study of high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), also known as Asperger syndrome, found females with more typical male brain anatomy were about three times more likely to have ASD.

Earlier intervention, more teacher training needed for inclusive education, expert says

Between five and 10 per cent of students have learning disabilities, Young says

Ryan Cooke

Teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador need more preparatory time and more training for inclusive education to work, says an expert in the field.

Gabrielle Young, a Memorial University assistant professor with a focus on special education, told CBC the province's inclusion model is rooted in good intentions, but needs better implementation.

What “Counts” for Autism Has Been Dropping: Is That Good?

David Rettew M.D.

New research confirms a drop in severity for autism diagnoses

The steady increase over the past several decades in the percentage of children who meet criteria for an autistic spectrum disorder has been widely reported.  From rates of around 1 in 5000 children in 1975, the latest estimates from the Center for Disease Control are 1 in 68. This rise has triggered alarm bells in many circles as people search for and speculate about the reasons behind the increase, including the thoroughly discredited hypothesis regarding vaccines. 

Rethinking Autism in the Workplace

Wendy Williams

Australia needs to “rethink” autism in the workplace, according to a not-for-profit disability employment organisation, involved in a world-first initiative to employ autistic adults in specialist animal care roles.

EPIC Assist, an organisation which helps people with disability to prepare for, find and maintain meaningful employment, said there were major problems with the way society viewed disability.

Why people with intellectual disabilities are dying avoidable deaths

Kate Aubusson

Maureen McIlquham drifts between caressing memories and hellish grief when she thinks of her daughter, Michelle.

Michelle wanted to be a copy typist. She longed to have a boyfriend and fall in love, like her sister.

Michelle 'deserved the same treatment'

Maureen McIlquham's daughter died of meningitis after her condition was overlooked by medical staff.

Children with suspected disabilities enduring 12-month wait for diagnosis in parts of Sydney

Stephanie Dalzell

Children with suspected disabilities are waiting up to a year for a diagnosis in parts of Sydney, leaving parents at "breaking point" and doctors accusing the NSW Government of dropping the ball.

Key points:

  • In Campbelltown, on average, children had to wait 12 months before being assessed
  • Parents cannot access disability funding before their child is assessed
  • Experts say treatment is crucial early in development

A diagnosis, typically made by a specialised team including a paediatrician, occupational therapist, speech pathologist and social worker, is required for a child with a disability to access funding.

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.


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