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How to improve the NDIS for people who have an intellectual disability as well as a mental illness

Karen R Fisher, UNSW; Erin Louise Whittle, UNSW, and Julian Norman Trollor, UNSW

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July, 2016 with a fundamental principle to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. Two years on, how is the scheme faring?


Full implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) started two years ago, but many people with disability are not receiving the support they need. One such group are people with complex support needs, such as people with intellectual disability who also have mental health needs.

Early interventions, explained

In 1987, psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas reported that he had created a therapy that would make the behavior of some autistic children indistinguishable from that of typical children by 7 years of age1. His approach, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), involves hours of drills each day, in which children are rewarded for certain behaviors and discouraged from others.

But Lovaas had overstated his case: Of the 19 children in his study who were treated, only 9 went on to meet typical developmental milestones.

Still, given the dearth of treatments for autism, ABA quickly became popular and is now the most common behavioral therapy for autism — but it is not without controversy. ABA also forms the basis for most interventions delivered early in childhood. The accepted wisdom in autism research holds that early intervention offers the best promise for an autistic child’s well-being. But how effective are these therapies?

Here’s what researchers know about early intervention.

NDIS is an illusion for people with Complex Needs

Luke Michael

Many National Disability Insurance Scheme recipients with complex and challenging support needs are not seeing the benefits the NDIS is meant to deliver, Victoria’s Public Advocate says.

A new report from the Office of the Public Advocate said a poor quality of services under the NDIS was impacting on the human rights of people with disability, and significantly compromising their ability to achieve chosen life goals.

Public Advocate Dr Colleen Pearce said for many, the choice and control promised by the NDIS was an illusion.

Disability carer recorded saying 'I just wanna f***ing beat these kids without risk'

Alison Branley

An audio recording has exposed the shocking verbal abuse of a 14-year-old severely autistic boy by the people who were supposed to be caring for him.

Warning: this story contains disturbing content and coarse language

Key points:

  • Two disability carers recorded verbally abusing autistic boy
  • In the recording, one carer tells the young boy "I'm gonna bash you"
  • Greens senator Jordon Steele-John wants aged care royal commission expanded to include abuse of people with disabilities living in group homes

Vic OPA: The Illusion of ‘choice and control’

The difficulties for people with complex and challenging support needs to obtain adequate supports under the NDIS

The purpose of this report is to tell the stories of some of OPA’s clients who have complex and challenging support needs, and who are not seeing the benefits that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is intended to deliver.

The human impact and harm experienced by clients when they receive inadequate supports under the NDIS is significant and the costs to them for this failure, and to all of us, have been enormous.

‘The Chase’ star Anne Hegerty reveals how Asperger’s affects her life

ANNE Hegerty aka The Governess from The Chase has opened up about having Asperger’s syndrome.

The quiz show star, 60, was officially diagnosed in 2005, two years after first suspecting she might have the condition.

“I think that I saw a documentary on TV (about Asperger’s) and there was just something about it that rung bells in my brain,” Hegerty said on UK TV show Loose Women. “I remember in my diary writing, ‘I’m beginning to suspect again that I have Asperger’s syndrome.’”

The priorities for autism

LIFE had always had its challenges for Sean, but it wasn't until he was in his 40s that the Raymond Terrace man was formally diagnosed with autism.

The father of three said he saw similar personality traits between himself and his youngest son, who also has autism.

The NDIS support has allowed Sean to flourish in his own small business, a local lawn mowing service.

Sean now has supports to improve his mobility, reduce muscle pain plus support workers.

Talk Time program prepares students with autism for a life after school

Michael Vincent

For some parents of children with autism their greatest fear is how to prepare their child for adult life.

Even simple communication can be a struggle.

"As a parent all you can hope is they're able to cope in the world," Brooke Vujeviks said.

When her son Jordan started high school "he literally walked in the door and looked at the ground — barely any eye contact".

Autistic children need the world to acknowledge the significance of the challenges they face

Nick Hodge, Sheffield Hallam University

Autistic children are increasingly being suspended or expelled from school, because of “behavioural problems” official figures show. Some regions in the UK have seen a 100% increase in these types of exclusions since 2011.

Research carried out by myself and colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University demonstrates the devastating consequences these exclusions have for disabled children and their families.

A landmark legal ruling in August stated that the exclusion of autistic children from school is a violation of their human rights. This decision by the upper tribunal should bring to a halt the alarming rise in the number of school exclusions of autistic pupils.

Byron Bay officer could be charged after teen hit multiple times

Warning: this story is about violent abuse by police of an autistic boy.

Tom Livingstone

A police officer who struck a naked autistic teenage boy multiple times on the NSW Far North Coast used excessive force and could potentially be charged with assault, the NSW police watchdog has found.

In a report presented to parliament this morning, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) suggested the officer could be prosecuted over the January 2018 incident and sacked by the police commissioner.

I'm an autistic WA woman, and I reject 'quiet hour' at Coles

Georgie Elle

Supermarkets intentionally slaughter their customers with bright lights and music to influence their buying decisions.

Loud PA announcements, crashing trolleys, changes in temperature, smells from the bakery, deli, gardening department, butcher, seafood, staff with their large oversized trolleys parked in aisles in the way filling shelves that you have to carefully manoeuvre around...

Coles introduced a quiet hour to its shops in the eastern states.

Photo: Edwina Pickles

Vic: Matthew Guy promises 'revolution' for autism support services

Benjamin Preiss

Autism support services would undergo a $50 million “revolution” if the Coalition wins the November election.

The package includes a 24-hour autism helpline and a $4 million increase for early diagnosis services, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced on Monday.

The peak autism support group, Amaze, will receive $2.4 million to expand their current hotline to 24 hours. It currently operates during business hours.

Mum full of praise for ‘Quiet Hour’ at Coles stores

A trip to the supermaket often proves traumatic for five-year-old Leo Reseigh.

The Campbelltown boy was diagnosed with level-two autism earlier this year, with a developmental delay and high anxiety.

But a new weekly ‘Quiet Hour’ session offered at Coles has made grocery shopping easier for people, like Leo, who have conditions such as autism.

Quiet Hour promotes reduced noise and lighting in store for 60 minutes from 10.30am each Tuesday morning.

Victorian Coalition pledges $50m in autism ‘revolution’

The Victorian Coalition has promised a “revolution” in the way the state supports families ­living with autism, in a $50 million major pre-election pitch that ­includes a pledge to create a 24-hour autism helpline for parents.

Less than nine weeks out from the Victorian election, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has unveiled a seven-point plan to spend $50m over four years to boost services and support the 55,000 Victorians living with autism.

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