World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, an opportunity to raise community awareness and show support for people with the condition, their families and carers.

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Senator Jan McLucas said today was an opportunity to show support for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), their families and carers.

"Right across Australia people are hosting events to raise awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders and encourage greater understanding of these conditions," Ms Macklin said.

Light It Up Blue events are also occurring throughout the world to raise awareness of autism with famous landmarks including the Empire State Building in New York being lit in blue to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day.

The Sydney Opera House, Federation Square in Melbourne and Brisbane’s Story Bridge are among Australian landmarks that have been lit in blue in support of the important cause.

Senator McLucas said the Australian Government's $190 million Helping Children with Autism package provides early intervention services to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

"Early intervention is making a huge difference to the quality of life for children with an autism spectrum disorder."

Since its introduction in October 2008, more than 12,000 children have accessed early intervention services through the Helping Children with Autism package.

As part of the package, the Government is delivering 150 PlayConnect Playgroups across the country to support children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families.

"PlayConnect Playgroups offer opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorders to play and learn, while providing parents and carers the opportunity to develop social networks and link with other early intervention services in their local area," Senator McLucas said.

Six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres have also been established across Australia, providing early learning programs and specific support for children with ASD.

The Australian Government is building on the Helping Children With Autism package with new access to early intervention services for more children with a disability through the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

From 1 July 2011, children will be able to access critical early intervention services like speech pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology.

A maximum of $6,000 can be spent in any financial year and families will have up to their child's seventh birthday to use the funding.

The Australian Government is working hard to help people with disability fulfil their potential.

from http://www.janmclucas.fahcsia.gov.au/mediareleases/2011/Pages/world_auti...