News/Announcements

Surging autism a headache for NDIS

Rick Morton

The number of children with ­autism has jumped almost 10 per cent in the past year alone, adding to a surge of diagnoses which have left families and government scrambling for answers.

Unpublished data from the ­Department of Social Services shows there are almost 80,000 children aged 15 and under with a primary disability of autism who qualify their parents for the Carer Allowance (child), with slightly more than 6000 diagnosed in the year to June.

But there appears to have been a marginal slowdown in the rate of increase, with diagnoses growing at an average 18.3 per cent a year between 2004 and 2011 but 10.9 per cent since 2011.

Autism diagnoses in Australia continue to grow in 2016

Media Release

The latest national data shows the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to grow at a substantial rate. In June 2016, there were 78,951 autistic children getting Carer Allowance (child) which is an increase of 9.4% from 2015. Another 2,000 children listed autism in their next three disabilities. In June 2015 there were 72,184 children and in June 2004, there were 14,495 children aged 0-15 years getting Carer Allowance (child) with ASD as their first-listed disability.

Just over 6,000 children were diagnosed with autism in the 2015-16 financial year; an average of 16.5 new autistic children each day. Over 2.46% of children aged 10-14 years are autistic.

In 2016, there are 62,609 boys and 16,342 girls. The male to female ratio is 3.8:1. There is serious concern that many girls miss out on diagnoses and on the services and supports that they need.

'All my life suddenly made sense': how it feels to be diagnosed with autism late in life

John Harris

Jon Adams was 52 when he learned he had Asperger syndrome. As adult referrals rise, he and others explain the impact – good and bad – of a late diagnosis

One day during his last year at primary school, Jon Adams drew a picture of a street in Portsmouth, the city where he still lives. The scene he drew had no people in it, but its representation of everything else suggested a talent beyond his years.

Missing autistic man Damien Ezzy found alive in Canberra

The aunt of Damien Ezzy says his family has been touched and moved by the community's efforts to find him after he was discovered safe and well on Saturday.

Australian Federal Police search and rescue patrols found Mr Ezzy, who has autism, near the side of Woodcock Drive, Gordon, about 9.30am after a woman reported seeing him near a pond.

Police said Mr Ezzy was found with another woman, who did not have a phone and decided to walk with him until she could get help because "he seemed vulnerable".

Talks continue after ACT, federal NDIS stalemate

Stephen Jeffery​ 

The ACT government and the federal agency overseeing the National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout have resumed planning meetings to cope with increased demand.

Negotiations between the territory and Commonwealth over which government would provide more funding to participants beyond the initial target of 5075 stalled during caretaker mode prior to the ACT election.

How should we teach autistic kids?

Cathy O'Leary

Like any mother, Christina Holly wants her daughters to do their best at school.

The fact that 12-year-old Jasmine has autism does not change that but it means she needs extra help, and sometimes that is not possible in a regular classroom.

The Year 6 student struggles with literacy and numeracy, and that is when her teachers make the call she is better off in the nearby special education unit.

Constantly suspended autistic children being ‘denied an education’

ASHLEIGH GLEESON, The Daily Telegraph

AUTISTIC students are being forced to miss huge amounts of class time with hundreds of suspensions dished out at NSW schools every day, according to several mothers of autistic children.

The mother of an eight-year-old autistic boy in Western Sydney missed a whopping 43 days of school in the first half of this year, while another mum said her six-year-old received a 15-day suspension when he reacted to a teacher wrongly restraining him.

Schoolgirls with autism share experiences in young adult novel

M in the Middle draws on ups and downs of Limpsfield Grange schoolgirls’ lives and how autism is different for girls

A novel told from the point of view of a teenage girl with autism, written by schoolgirls with autism, has been published after the students – frustrated by their experience of a world that rejects and ignores them – decided to take matters into their own hands.

"It's like a five-year-old wrote it": disability advocates slam NDIS care plans

Miki Perkins

When Jessica Eshel heard a new national disability scheme was coming, she vowed to advocate on behalf of her sister Antonella, 41, who has an intellectual and other complex disabilities.

She pored over NDIS brochures, went to information sessions and spoke to the carers at Antonella's group home about the kind of support she needed to live a full, happy life.

$6m drain from NDIS

State, families cry foul over funding

Ashley Argoon

ALMOST $6 million has been stripped from the trouble-plagued National Disability Insurance Scheme in its rollout in Victoria, the State Government has claimed.

The families of Victorians with disabilities have accused the Commonwealth of harmful cost-cutting and of treating their vulnerable loved ones “appallingly”.

Under the new $22 billion NDIS, which is currently being rolled out in five areas north-east of Melbourne, people with disabilities will get funding based on their individual needs rather than through block funding to service providers.

But there are complaints that individual plans for care have been fast-tracked without contribution from the clients or their families.

School sends students to ‘naughty classroom’

Parents are outraged children with special or behavioural needs at Lightning Reef Primary School have been put into a new “naughty-naughty classroom” and can no longer have play breaks with other students.

The parents say their children were exposed to violence when the new arrangements started this week.

At least one family has withdrawn their daughter from the school, saying she was “too scared” to return to the classroom.

Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

 Health editor

Symptoms improve after parents are trained to better understand and interact with preschool children, researchers say.

A new form of therapy has for the first time been shown to improve the symptoms and behaviour of autistic children, offering a potential breakthrough in care for millions of families.

ASD, early intervention and the NDIS

With a recent video, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) released a bit of information about its NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach as it affects autistic children. Regrettably, The NDIS ECEI Approach falls well short of best practice early intervention (EI) for autistic children.

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, a national grass-roots ASD advocacy group known as A4, applauds the NDIA’s intention to help children with disability into EI as quickly as possible. However, A4 is concerned that the NDIS ECEI Approach:

  • avoids diagnoses and does not recognise the distinct nature of ASD and the distinct needs of autistic children;
  • does not provide the impartial and comprehensive advice that parents need so they can make informed choices about EI for their autistic children;

  • rejects expert advice that autistic children need intensive individualised ASD-specific and comprehensive EI; and

  • diverts families from effective (evidence-based best practice) EI for their autistic children.

Reconsider your perception of autism, pleads mother of two autistic children

I am a 43-year-old autistic wife and mother to two beautiful autistic children. Our family is what I like to describe as ‘neurodivergent’: our brain and thought process is different to others based on our genetic make up. So it was with shock and disbelief when I learned that four people from the one family had died on Monday 17 October in Davidson, NSW. 

Autism Speaks No Longer Seeking Cure

For the first time, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization has revamped its agenda and one notable objective is no more.

Autism Speaks’ board of directors voted in late September to modify the organization’s mission statement, marking the first such change since the nonprofit was established in 2005.

The new iteration is shorter and strikes a markedly different tone. Gone are terms like “struggle,” “hardship” and “crisis.” Also absent is any mention of seeking a cure for the developmental disorder.

Stress, despair in care of children with autism

They say that the mother of a child with autism experiences a level of stress comparable to that of a combat soldier.

Grace Fava certainly did.

Her two boys, now aged 15 and 13, were diagnosed with autism at the ages of three and two respectively and the family plunged into near-constant crisis, including a three-year period of faeces smearing and several terrifying occasions when they escaped naked from the windows.

"In the early days it was horrendous," Ms Fava said.

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