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Medical Journal - Autism spectrum disorder: A guide for physicians to help families

Increased awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is placing huge demands on health care systems and health care professionals to help children and their families cope with the disorder. A comprehensive evidence-based review published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) aims to help physicians provide appropriate medical support to families of children with ASD, from detection to treatment.

Inclusionists: faith vs evidence

Inclusionists believe “inclusive education” is the best way, well really the only way, to educate every student, including every student with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Inclusionists simply have faith. They ignore evidence that does not support their faith. They usually lack tolerance for anyone who criticises, or even questions, the total supremacy of “inclusive education”. Many students with ASD benefit from, even thrive through, “inclusive education”. Sadly, most students with ASD are currently educated in an “inclusive” mainstream setting but have abysmal outcomes1; outcomes that are typically far worse than students with disability generally. The data (evidence) is clear.

Anxiety and bullying studies reveal startling findings

Parents are over-reporting anxiety in their children with autism, while bullying of children with autism at school is going unreported until it escalates, according to studies currently underway at Bond University’s Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Preliminary findings of the first study indicate that parents and care givers often mistake repetitive behaviours such as rocking and hand flapping as an indication that their children are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

Report on mental health and autism spectrum disorders

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) released a new report on the relationship between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and mental health.

It deals with a number of perception and outcomes about ASD in the context of mental health.

This report may or may not relate to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into mental health and its "omission" of A4's submission to the inquiry (see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/417).

Disability report chronically underestimates ASD diagnoses

A just-released report (see PriceWaterhouseCoopers) presents a range of information supporting the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme. The paper 'Disability expectations: Investing in a better life, a stronger Australia' is "developed in collaboration with key leaders in the disability care and support field, this PwC report considers: what needs to change if the NDIS is to make a meaningful difference?" The report indicates that:

  • Australia ranks 21st out of 29 OECD countries in employment participation rates for those with a disability … People with a disability in Australia are only half (50%) as likely to be employed as people without a disability.
  • Almost one in two people with a disability in Australia live in or near poverty (45%). This is more than 2.5 times the rate of poverty experienced in the general population and more than double the OECD average of 22%. The OECD average for relative poverty risk is approximately 1.6, which indicates that people with a disability tend to have a poverty risk about 1.6 times higher than people without a disability. Australia is by far the worst performer on this indicator, ranking 27th out of 27 OECD countries, with a relative poverty risk of 2.7.

World report on disability

About 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. The global disability prevalence is higher than previous WHO estimates, which date from the 1970s and suggested a figure of around 10%. This global estimate for disability is on the rise due to population ageing and the rapid spread of chronic diseases, as well as improvements in the methodologies used to measure disability.

Report - Economic Costs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia

Key findings 

This review has produced an estimate of the annual economic costs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Australia, updating a previous study completed in April 2007. 

This review has produced an updated estimate of the annual economic costs of ASD in Australia, including the burden of disease, of between $8.1 billion (low prevalence) and $11.2 billion (high prevalence), with a mid-point of $9.7 billion (all estimates are in December 2010 dollars). 

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