New autism diagnosis fuels funding concerns

By Emily Bourke

Thousands of Australian children with autism could miss out on government-funded support and services because of changes to the way autism is diagnosed.

The manual of medical disorders known as the DSM 5, used by psychiatrists around the world, is being updated.

The updated American guidebook for mental disorders is expected to be released in May next year, but already it has many people nervous.

Autism diagnosis rules to change

THOUSANDS of children diagnosed with autism could lose access to thousands of dollars in federal support and other subsidies under changes planned for the manual of medical disorders used to guide psychiatrists worldwide.

Autism patient advocates say the first Australian research on the likely impact of the changes suggests 23 per cent of those who qualify as having a form of autism would no longer do so.

New website for supporting tertiary students with ASD

The Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University, has developed an online resource for ASD students, parents, and tertiary staff. The website development was part of a larger project which aims to support tertiary students diagnosed with ASD.

Here’s the link:

Briefly, each section contains the following information:
• Students: transition and orientation, disclosure, what to expect at university and TAFE, learning at university and TAFE.

Autism expert warns against cutting education funding

Hamish Fitzsimmons

A leading expert on autism is warning of the long-term costs if funds to assist the education of children with autism spectrum disorder continue to be cut.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: A leading autism expert is warning that state funding cuts will cause long-term damage to children with autism spectrum disorder. Around the country, funding for high functioning autistic children is under review. Thousands of families are affected as children are forced from special schools into mainstream schools. 

Bullying of autistic kids going unnoticed

Researchers say autistic children who are bullied at school often do not receive any help until the abuse becomes physical.

A study of 50 autistic primary and secondary school students by Bond University on Queensland's Gold Coast has found 80 per cent of them have experienced bullying without their teachers knowing.

Dr Vicki Bitsika from the Centre of Autism Spectrum Disorders says it often takes a long time for a child with autism to realise they are being mistreated.

Anxiety and bullying studies reveal startling findings

Parents are over-reporting anxiety in their children with autism, while bullying of children with autism at school is going unreported until it escalates, according to studies currently underway at Bond University’s Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Preliminary findings of the first study indicate that parents and care givers often mistake repetitive behaviours such as rocking and hand flapping as an indication that their children are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

My son, and others, are owed an inquiry into Yooralla

Sandy Guy
July 2, 2012


LAST Tuesday I received a phone call from a former Yooralla regional manager. She said police were going to the home of my 31-year-old son, who is severely disabled, to interview him and the other five residents of the house, which is run by Yooralla.

Stunned, I asked her what was going on. She replied that a Yooralla casual carer was in police custody charged with alleged abuse. I asked her when the police were going to my son's house. She said they were already there.

Health-care disparities exist for children with autism spectrum disorders

June 11, 2012 in Autism spectrum disorders

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) require an array of specialized health care services. With these services come higher costs for parents and insurance providers. University of Missouri researchers compared costs and types of services for children with ASD to costs and services for children with other conditions like asthma or diabetes. The researchers found children with ASD paid more for health care than children with other conditions. In addition, children with ASD used more services yet had less access to specialized care.

Australia fails on children's rights, says UN

Farah Farouque
June 25, 2012

The UN report noted that indigenous children were significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice and child protection systems.

The UN report noted that indigenous children were significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice and child protection systems. Photo: Angela Wylie

A UNITED Nations committee has pulled up Australia on the status of its children, citing concerns from ''serious and widespread'' racial discrimination faced by indigenous youth to inadequate numbers of newborns being breastfed by their mothers.

Suspend judgment: keep kids at school

Justine Ferrari, National education correspondent
From: The Australian
June 18, 2012

SUSPENDING students from school for bad behaviour is counterproductive, with students who have been suspended twice as likely to be excluded again in the next 12 months.

Research by Australian Catholic University professor Sheryl Hemphill found about 6 per cent of students in Years 6-8 have been suspended, rising to 12 per cent of Year 10 students.

Submission on Draft National Standards for Disability Services

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) provided a submission on the Draft National Standards for Disability Services. It says ...

The current National Standards for Disability Services (NSDS) came into effect in 1993. These Standards govern existing disability services nationally. Experience from the existing NSDS teaches crucial lessons.

The annual reports of government departments responsible for existing services and of government-funded service providers proclaim proudly their success, efficiency and compliance with these Standards.

Vic Education says too many donuts cause failure to learn

A court case is running in Victoria (see about education for a child with a disability. So far the department has said that the reason for the young man’s failure to learn is that, he ate too many donuts.

An expert witness for the Education Department told the court said standardised assessments are not as good as unwritten teacher observations because, teachers have a special gift.

The department lawyers and their expert witness said that people with an intellectual disability don’t learn, so no matter what you do with them they don’t improve.

GPS Personal Locators Provide Parents Peace Of Mind If Family Member Wanders & Becomes Lost

TrackingCentral Pty. Ltd, a Brisbane based company supplies a miniature GPS Personal Location device called CareTracker which is used by carers or family members to locate a loved one in the event they wander off or become lost.

The CareTracker is the size of a match box and can be carried in a pocket or backpack or else securely attached to the wrist / ankle or clothing. The CareTracker has a battery life of up to 20 days.

Teen sues over school failure

Beau Abela. Photo: Craig Abraham
Beau Abela photograph

Maris Beck, May 1, 2012

A TEENAGER is suing the Education Department in Victoria because he cannot read, write or count properly, saying he was silenced with medication and teachers blamed his inability to learn on eating doughnuts.

Beau Abela, now 18, claims he was victimised and discriminated against because of his complex learning disability.

Barrister David Hancock told the Federal Court in Melbourne that his client, Beau, did not have the literacy or numeracy skills to get a job. “Instead he sits at home wondering what to do with his life.”

Mr Hancock said that the department had blamed Beau, his family, “even his diet” and had not provided enough help. Mr Hancock contrasted reports from prep and early school years describing Beau as happy, responsible and friendly with later reports of aggression and disengagement. “The longer Beau has been at school, the more his intellectual functioning has actually declined.”

He told the court, presided over by Justice Richard Tracey, that Beau had passed through the system even though he had failed to meet the required academic levels, and despite his father’s repeated concerns.

Australian icon lights up blue for Autism

2nd April 2012

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in Canberra will be one of the first landmarks in the world to Light it Up Blue on World Autism Awareness Day.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to help improve the lives of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

Concern Over Changes to Autism Criteria Unfounded, Says APA

Deborah Brauser

January 25, 2012 — Concerns that proposed changes to autism criteria in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) will exclude many individuals from diagnosis and treatment are unfounded, says the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Ricky Stuart opens up about autism and his daughter Emma

NOT so long ago Ricky Stuart was in McDonald's with his daughter, who is 14, waiting for her to finish her thickshake. It was time to go and even though she still had a little of the shake left, he told her it was time and got up to leave, and this is where life takes a left-hand turn.

Emma Stuart was nowhere near ready to go so, in protest, she picked up her shake and threw it all over her dad. Imagine the looks the people gave. Milk everywhere, the daughter of a high-profile footballer who is now a high-profile coach.

Report on mental health and autism spectrum disorders

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) released a new report on the relationship between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and mental health.

It deals with a number of perception and outcomes about ASD in the context of mental health.

This report may or may not relate to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into mental health and its "omission" of A4's submission to the inquiry (see

Australian governments ignore bad outcomes for autism/ASD

As yet there is no sign that governments in Australia even recognise the particularly bad outcomes reported for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A4 says, so far the parts of governments in Australia that are responsible for treatment, rehabilitation, education, etc. just ignore reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that people with ASD have especially poor education, employment and disability support outcomes.


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