Autistic people aren't really accepted – and it’s impacting their mental health

Up to 70% of autistic people experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, according to some research. Unfortunately, we still don’t know why autistic people are at a higher risk for mental health problems than non-autistic people. But one important factor is whether an individual’s autism is recognised and accepted by those around them.

Carer and 8yo boy killed after being hit by truck on Pacific Motorway near Newcastle

A 27-year-old woman and an eight-year-old boy she was a carer for have died after being hit by a truck on the Pacific Motorway near Newcastle in New South Wales.

Police said the woman's car had stopped in a breakdown bay on the M1 at Cameron Park, near George Booth Drive, on Sunday evening.

"The driver got out of the vehicle and opened the side door," Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.

"At that stage we believe an eight-year-old child has entered the roadway, followed by a 27-year-old carer.

Jemma Lilley and Trudi Lenon found guilty of autistic teen Aaron Pajich’s murder

Jemma Lilley and Trudi Lenon have been found
guilty of murdering teenager Aaron Pajich

Jemma Lilley’s fascination with serial killers goes back at least a decade to the crude online novel she wrote about murder when she was a 16-year-old living in her ­native Stamford, England.

Indeed, she had hoped to ­become a serial killer.

Lilley once boasted that she knew how to commit murder and get away with it.

She wanted to kill and the feeling was getting stronger. And when she finally lived out her fantasy with her obsequious housemate Trudi Lenon in June last year, Lilley gloated that police were too dumb to catch her.

Cessnock's Strive for Autism celebrates tenth anniversary

Alan Baird  and president Maxine Baird facing the camera

HONOURED: Strive for Autism's public officer Alan Baird
and president Maxine Baird with the group's award for
Community Event of the Year
at Cessnock's 2017 Australia Day awards.

Krystal Sellars

Ten years ago this month, a support group for families of people with autism spectrum disorders held its first meeting in Cessnock.

Since then, Strive for Autism has helped to provide support for such families, and raise much-needed awareness of the lifelong developmental condition that can affect communication, sensory perception, social interactions and behaviour.

Strive for Autism president Maxine Baird said the group’s meetings provide information and support, and a forum for families with questions and stories to share.

Push to open Lyrebird College, a school for children with autism

Laura Armitage

A MUM’S dream to get a better education for her son, who has autism, could see a new independent school set up in Lilydale.

Melissa Handbury has been working to open Lyrebird College for two years, and the idea grew after planning for the future of nine-year-old son Logan.

Ms Handbury said the process highlighted to her the need for more tailored teaching and therapy-based learning for children with autism, particularly at secondary-school level.

USA: Autism is not my identity: How a Cave Creek teen lost his diagnosis

Mark Macluskie packed his belongings and left home for the first time to attend college this fall.

The winner of one of 20 coveted Flinn Scholarships, Mark has a full ride to study mechanical engineering with two minors in electrical engineering and mathematics at Arizona State University.

Mark is the consummate scholar: intelligent, charismatic, a whiz at math.

'It's soul destroying': NDIS teething problems make many feel they're not worth the help

boy lying on floor

"Trying to contain a hurricane," is how Briana Blackett describes life as the sole parent of two boys with autism.

Key points:

  • Complaints that the NDIS is not delivering the help needed by patients
  • NDIS acknowledges teething problems and promises to 'significantly improve'
  • Productivity Commission to hand down NDIS inquiry recommendations

"Max can just out of nowhere start screaming, like horror film screaming, pinching himself, biting himself, throwing himself on the ground," she said.

Lutz-Manrique children's special needs school providing more support for parents one year on

A year on from the murder-suicide of the Lutz-Manrique family in Sydney's north, the children's special needs school is still grappling with the tragic deaths and has formed special support groups for parents.

It was October last year that police made the gruesome discovery of the Lutz-Manrique family, in an elaborate murder suicide in the leafy Sydney suburb of Davidson.

Families ask government to shut down Autism Plus following damning Ombudsman report

Maria Thomas' son Matthew is severely disabled and has autism.
He was sexually abused by another resident at a Autism Plus
group home. Now Ms Thomas is calling on the government
to shut down the facility. Photo: Eddie Jim

The case was later dropped due to fears that the accused's disability was too serious to enable him to comprehend the charges against him.

An investigation by the Victorian Ombudsman, released in September, found that despite ongoing threats to Matthew, the alleged perpetrator continued to live at the Autism Plus facility.

Mum claims she was kept in the dark after out of school hours carer allegedly attacked her autistic son in fast food restaurant

A Woodcroft mum claims a southern suburbs
OSHC worker confessed to repeatedly kicking
her autistic son, but the school has kept her
in the dark. Photo: Thinkstock

Tim Williams

A DISTRESSED mother says she only discovered an out-of-school-hours care worker repeatedly kicked her autistic, intellectually disabled son in a fast-food restaurant because the woman confessed to her – one term later.

Jordy Bonser, of Woodcroft, is furious that the southern suburbs school failed to tell her the worker, who was employed by the governing council, allegedly attacked her son on a vacation-care excursion to the McDonald’s restaurant on South Rd, Darlington, in January.

Davidson murder-suicide: Exhibition featuring autistic children’s art to honour lost family

Maria Lutz and husband Fernando Manrique with children
Martin and Elisa. Picture: SuppliedSource:News Corp Australia

Ava Benny-Morrison

A SYDNEY community was rocked when Fernando Manrique killed himself, his wife and their autistic children. Maria Lutz’s friends have spoken out.

A FEW days before Maria Lutz was killed while sleeping next to her 11-year-old daughter, she told a friend about her husband’s drastic change in behaviour.

It could have been seen as Fernando Manrique’s final desperate attempt to salvage his marriage.

But, to Sarina Marchi, a former community worker, Mr Manrique’s sudden interest in being a model father rang alarm bells.

How do you solve the trickiest problems in the workplace? Employ more autistic people

man behind desk looking into camera

Neurodiversity can be a huge advantage for companies, yet people on the spectrum have often been marginalised. Now some firms are specifically seeking them out. Is this a crucial turning point?

Five minutes from London’s Liverpool Street station is an office that looks like any other office in the tech industry: the decor is 21st century, pristine; takeaway coffee cups are omnipresent; most people under 30 are in casualwear. Just about everyone seems to be either staring at a smartphone, tapping at a laptop, or sprinting to their next appointment.

The company I’ve come to visit is called Auticon, an award-winning IT business. As well as the staff in the office, it employs 15 IT consultants who spend most of their time working elsewhere for companies such as pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the credit rating agency Experian, and Allianz Insurance. But there is a fascinating twist: all of the 15 are autistic, and have been given their jobs after long spells of unemployment – not out of charity or sympathy, but a deep appreciation of the attributes they bring to their work.

Fears of more abuse to disabled children if NSW Government scrap advocacy funding

Brigid Glanville

Disability groups fear there could be more unreported abuse of children in schools as the New South Wales Government plans to cut funding to advocacy groups.

The plans to cut disability advocacy funding from June 2018 come after ABC's 7.30 program revealed that in the last two years there were 246 reported incidents of abuse or neglect to disabled students in NSW schools.

Government investigates 246 reports of abuse of disabled children in NSW schools

mother, child and father walking down a road

Georgina Marker-North said it appeared her son Thomas was strapped
to restraint chairs at school "probably at least every day, probably for
hours a day". Photo: 7.30/ABC

Andrew Taylor

A leading advocate for children with disabilities has accused the NSW government of failing to properly investigate allegations of child abuse.

David Roy, a lecturer in education at the University of Newcastle, said teachers feared losing their jobs if they report mistreatment, while abusers were protected.

ABC 7.30 Report: Mum 'gobsmacked' at school's response to autistic son being tied to restraining chair

Warning: this is a very distressing story

Brigid Glanville

A mother whose autistic son was strapped to a restraining chair in class was asked if she would prefer a "more aesthetically pleasing chair" when she confronted the school about the seven-year-old's treatment.

The video for this story is at

Key points:

  • Almost 250 reported incidents of abuse or neglect of disabled students in government schools since 2015
  • Complaints include children being strapped into restraining chairs
  • Abuse includes physical abuse and neglect

Anger after police pin young child to ground in arrest

Police have been filmed arresting a young boy while telling him to "shut up" in Victoria.

The video, which was uploaded to Facebook, appears to show at least three officers pinning the 12-year-old boy to the ground at Bendigo Railway Station on Friday.

With his face pressed against the concrete, the boy, who police believed at the time to have autism, is held down by the officers.

"He's got autism so he doesn't understand," one officer can be heard saying.

Champion athlete with autism completes a 4,000km run across Australia

Dane in hi-vis vest after his run


Dane Waites was surrounded by
a throng of local supporters and
media shortly after crossing the
finish line

Bianca Gurra

Running from one side of Australia to the other is a feat most of us would never even dream of attempting, but Dane Waites has done just that.

Mr Waites is an elite athlete who was born with autism spectrum disorder, and developed a passion for running as young child.

As is the case with many people living with autism, Mr Waites has also battled with depression throughout his life.

Two women on trial over autistic teen found murdered and buried under concrete

boy's face

Tim Clarke

A YOUNG man with autism was targeted for murder by two woman who lured him to their home, stabbed and garotted him and then buried his body under a concrete slab and floor tiles in the back garden, a court has been told.

Jemma Victoria Lilley, 26, and Trudi Claire Lenon, 43, today went on trial for the murder of 18 year old Aaron Pajich who went missing from Rockingham in June last year.

Many traits we attribute to autism or Asperger’s were once regarded as eccentricities

WE all know them — the shy schoolboy who sits alone studying maths while the other kids frolic in the playground, the teen girl who simply will not stop talking despite the obvious signs of boredom from her friends, or the majestically gifted musician who fails to pass a single subject at school.

Chances are that if any of these people sought specialist help because they felt they were struggling to “be like everyone else”, they could be diagnosed with a degree of autism or Asperger’s syndrome.


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