News/Announcements

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.

IN A FAMILY WAY - AUTISM RESEARCH IN 2016

A SUMMARY OF AUTISM DISCOVERIES IN 2016 AND WHAT THEY MEAN TO FAMILIES

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.

Autism: 'hidden pool' of undiagnosed mothers with condition emerging

Experts report growing phenomenon of women recognising themselves as they research their children’s disorders

A “hidden pool” of women who have grown up with undiagnosed autism is coming to light as mothers researching their children’s spectrum disorders recognise themselves in their findings.

Children on autism spectrum disorder 'cusp' missing out on early intervention, says child psychologist

Kate Hill

A Naracoorte child psychologist says children on the cusp of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be missing out on vital early treatment because parents or educators may not realise a child needs specialist intervention.

"The earlier the detection, the better the outcome," said Lana-Joy Durik, one of only two psychologists who specialise in early childhood intervention operating in South Australia's south-east.

Call for autism diagnosis overhaul

FELICITY NELSON

Patchy services and a lack of national guidelines are delaying the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in children, leading to poorer outcomes, the AMA says.

Australia has fallen behind comparable countries in the timely diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with the condition being picked up at a mean age of about six instead of the ideal age of two.

Tackling autism diagnosis on a national level

Iliana Grosse-Buening

The NDIA and Autism CRC are creating a national guideline for autism diagnosis to address delayed diagnoses and other issues rife across state health systems.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by behavioural differences in children, but autism diagnosis is far from straightforward.

Now, the Cooperative Research Centre for Autism Diagnosis (Autism CRC) and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have joined forces to implement a national guideline for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Underpaid disabled workers to claim compensation from Government after Federal Court win

Ten thousand disabled workers who were underpaid at government-funded workshops across the country will be able to claim compensation from the Commonwealth, following a Federal Court ruling.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn led a representative class action, after the productivity tool used to determine what wages employees at Australian Disability Enterprises received was found to be discriminatory.

UK: Schools struggle as autism diagnoses rise 25 per cent

Schools are “struggling” to provide for autistic pupils following a 25 per cent increase in autism diagnoses in the past four years, according to government data and local area inspection letters.

The first published inspections of councils’ “local offers” for special education needs and disability (SEND) provision warn of rising autism referrals and lengthy waits – with a nearly 40 per cent increase in pupils with autism statements since 2012 in one area.

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