Autism learning centre for Nelson Bay

The quest to find a learning, training and respite facility for people with autism in Port Stephens has almost totally consumed the lives of Nelson Bay parents Les and Judy Merrett.

In 2010 the couple, whose 15-year-old son Dylan has autism, established the charity Autism Action with an aim to assist Port Stephens families impacted by autism and other intellectual disabilities.

We've seen autistic doctors and detectives on TV, how about Rain Woman?

Madeleine Ryan

I'm autistic, and I've rarely ever seen myself in the television characters that are supposed to represent me. There seem to be a lot of doctors, detectives – and dudes. It's hard to find stories about openly autistic girls and women navigating life as openly autistic girls and women; and even harder to find ones where autism is treated as more than a freakish gift, or as a disability.

key message - A4 and NDIA meeting, 4 July 2018

Bob Buckley, A4 Convenor, met with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Chairman, Dr Helen Nugent AO, and NDIA CEO, Robert De Luca, along with Ms Vicki Rundle and Mr Peter De Natris, at the NDIA’s Canberra office on 4th July 2018. Mary Mallet, DANA CEO, also attended.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to improve outcomes substantially for autistic people of all ages, including children.

In relation to children, this includes:

The Australian pig farm benefitting from employing people with autism

Cassandra Hough

It is not easy for people on the autism spectrum to find work, but an Australian piggery is trying to change that.

SunPork Farms is part of an initiative called Autism and Agriculture which is aiming to develop career paths for people on the autism spectrum in animal care roles.

In Australia only about 40 per cent of autistic adults have a job.

Kimono Lounge exhibits works by autistic artist Damian Colpo

Frances Vinall

A new exhibition at Kimono Lounge showcases the works of Launceston artist Damian Colpo. 

The Kimono Lounge, a former church, is a gallery and shop in the home of Sarah Trousdale. She doubles as an art therapy teacher, and her gallery is a space for people of all abilities.

Colpo, who has autism, is a student of Trousdale’s, and has found art as a way to show his creativity, unique worldview, and love of animals. 

Watchdog looking into fenced-off classroom used to isolate teen

By Sherryn Groch

The ACT's new watchdog for restrictive practices is investigating a fenced-off facility used to isolate a Canberra student with special needs from his peers.

Following a report in The Canberra Times and calls from disability advocacy groups for an investigation, senior practitioner Mandy Donley confirmed she was looking into the case.

A spokeswoman said Ms Donley had visited the school and was working with those involved.

Advisory group plans to improve NDIS outcomes for Australians with autism

Amanda Lyons

The Autism Advisory Group, established as a voice for people with autism participating in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, announced its four key issues of focus for the next 12 months.

The Autism Advisory Group (AAG) was established by the Federal Government to advise the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on issues faced by people with autism in relation to accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Australian Psychological Society Medicare review submission betrays members and clients

The Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) submission to the Commonwealth Government’s Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) review is an astonishing attempt to restrict access to psychology services for the most vulnerable of Australians. The submission, which was only made available to APS members on Friday, 17 August 2018, represents a kick in the guts to over 60% of Australian psychologists, who may have their ability to provide affordable and accessible services to clients with complex mental health needs significantly reduced.

The submission preferences psychologists who have been “endorsed” by the APS above all other psychologists, for treating clients with “Severe and Chronic/Unremitting Disorders” and “Moderate – Severe Disorders and more Complex Disorders”. This includes disorders ranging from bipolar, autism and ADHD, to obsessive compulsive disorders, trauma disorders, eating disorders or anything else a referring practitioner thinks is “moderate/severe”.

'Like a jail sentence': Teen with special needs isolated at school

Sherryn Groch

A Canberra student with high needs who wasn't allowed to go to school for more than four months is now facing a "jail sentence" when he returns under restrictive conditions, his family say.

Abdul-Ghani Ferkh, who has complex autism, was suspended from the Woden School in early April after running off campus grounds to the local shops and stealing a toy. Correspondence between the school, the ACT education directorate and the Ferkh family seen by The Canberra Times details how the suspension, originally due to end on April 18, was extended multiple times before his break became indefinite.

SA: Mainstream classes full of students with special needs, union survey finds

Tim Williams

TEACHERS are facing classrooms where the majority of students in front of them have disabilities, learning difficulties or trauma-related conditions, a union survey has found.

More than 100 South Australian teachers, classroom support workers and parents made reports to a one-off Australian Education Union hotline in a single afternoon.

Desperate parents to set up own autism school to help their kids

Jane Hansen

A LACK of options for their severely autistic children has forced a group of desperate parents to open their own school.

Julia Coorey, whose four-year-old son Michael is non-verbal and at the severe end of the spectrum, said her child — and many like him — needed one-on-one teaching if they were ever going to be “functioning human beings”.

“Our kids are all on the severe end of the spectrum,” Ms Coorey told The Sunday Telegraph.

Children with autism showing increasing anxiety through primary school – study

Deborah Marshall

A world-first autism study has found high levels of anxiety in children as young as five years old with autism attending Australian schools, and that levels of generalised anxiety increase as they get older.

Published in the Journal of School Psychology this week, the study surveyed teachers using a standardised ranking method to identify anxiety symptoms of 92 children aged 5-12 years in mainstream and special schools.

Researchers from the Griffith University Autism Centre of Excellence analysed two groups of children – those who had just started school and those about to move from primary to high school.


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