'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.

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.

Laser Beak Man: how an artist with autism created his own superhero

 Laser Beak Man is a character that appears in
the vast majority of Sharp’s art.
Photograph: Supplied: Brisbane festival

Art was Tim Sharp’s way of communicating as a child; now it’s inspiration for a joyful 90 minutes of puppetry, live music, animation and dad jokes

 Laser Beak Man is a character that appears in the vast majority of Sharp’s art. Photograph: Supplied: Brisbane festival

Tim Sharp takes things literally. Consider the term “flat white”. Most of us would imagine our morning coffee, perhaps being served to us by a bearded barista. Sharp, however, sees a steamroller and a rather unfortunate Anglo person.

Sharp is an artist with autism, who communicates his unique perspective on the world through quirky, hilarious and colourful drawings. The words “Virgin Mobile”, for example, see cherubic young men and women spinning from a ceiling fan. The hymn Then Sings My Soul translates to a shoe opening like a mouth, spewing forth music. And a figure standing in front of a bright green crop of footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls with a watering can – well, if you have trouble with that one, click here.

Parents take children's disability discrimination claims to court

Disability advocates warn that schools are separating children at public and private schools because of their disability.

A Melbourne mum is suing the Victorian Department of Education and Training over allegations her autistic son was separated from his peers in the classroom and in the playground, and not provided adequate support at school.

sound available at

Why the world expert on Asperger's took 30 years to notice condition in his own son

Tony Attwood speaking

 Prof Tony Attwood describes his 35-year-old son
Will as a hero. Photograph: Mark Graham/AAP

Prof Tony Attwood, an internationally renowned clinical psychologist, was blindsided when he realised his son Will had the syndrome

Will Attwood has been addicted to drugs for the past two decades, an affliction which has seen the 35-year-old jailed multiple times and reliant on support from his family.

Asperger's syndrome: How 'Aspie' diagnosis slipped past world expert Tony Attwood

How did a world expert in autism miss a diagnosis right under his nose?

That's the question that Professor Tony Attwood still mulls over and deeply regrets.

The clinical psychologist is recognised as a leading authority in the diagnosis and management of Asperger's syndrome.

But all his skills and research couldn't help his son Will.

It was only when the 35-year-old ended up with an overwhelming drug addiction and in jail for burglary that Professor Attwood had a sudden insight.

TV has come a long way in depicting characters with autism, but not far enough

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory. 

Darren Devlyn, Fiona Sharkie

It's time to forget Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning role in Rain Man and embrace the more nuanced depictions of autism in recent TV shows.

For too long, Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man was the only touchstone many of us had for autism.

While Hoffman's performance was met with resounding applause, a consequence of the movie's success was that it created an autism trope that the movie and TV industries were loath to shake.

New autism diagnosis guidelines miss the mark on how best to help children with developmental problems

The first national guidelines for diagnosing autism were released for public consultation last week. The report by research group Autism CRC was commissioned and funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in October 2016.

The NDIS has taken over the running of federal government early intervention programs that provide specialist services for families and children with disabilities. In doing so, they have inherited the problem of diagnostic variability. Biological diagnoses are definable. The genetic condition fragile X xyndrome, for instance, which causes intellectual disability and development problems, can be diagnosed using a blood test.

Autism diagnosis, by contrast, is imprecise. It’s based on a child’s behaviour and function at a point in time, benchmarked against age expectations and comprising multiple simultaneous components. Complexity and imprecision arise at each stage, implicit to the condition as well as the process. So, it makes sense the NDIS requested an objective approach to autism diagnosis.

Autism CRC: draft national guidelines on ASD diagnosis wants community consultation

Autism CRC logo

The diagnostic process for children, adolescents and adults referred for assessment of autism spectrum disorder in Australia: National guideline draft for community consultation


There is currently no consistent process across Australia for how an individual is assessed for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This inconsistency has led to uneven service provision across the Australian states and territories, along with confusion within the community about the diagnostic process. The aim of this guideline is to define a diagnostic assessment process that is acceptable to consumers, feasible to conduct, effective in delivering accurate diagnostic decisions, and comprehensive in guiding future clinical management.


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