News by Region

Leave No Autistic Mother Behind: Autism and Motherhood – Experiences, Challenges and Positive Strategies (COSP12 Side Event)

A4 and AFDO represented in UN Side Event

13 Jun 2019 -  Autism is a partially genetic, lifelong neurodevelopmental difference, yet there is limited research examining parenting in autistic mothers.

This side-event will discuss, from both an academic and an experiential point of view – including through 2 panellists who would be speaking both as researchers and as autistic mothers – the experiences of autistic mothers in areas related to parenthood: pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, self-perception of parenting strengths and weaknesses, communication with professionals in relation to one's child, and the social experience of motherhood, including disclosing one’s diagnosis of autism in parenting contexts.

Eating disorders can mask autism in girls

Girls and women on the autism spectrum are at higher risk of anorexia nervosa than males, research suggests.

But girls are also more likely than boys to have undiagnosed autism and their symptoms could be mistaken for an eating disorder.

An article in Current Psychiatry Reports by researchers from Kings College London reports between 4 and 52.5 per cent of anorexia patients meet a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, depending on the study. In the general population just 1 per cent have autism.

'Something is wrong': Inquiry hears harrowing school violence stories

Sherryn Groch, Kirsten Lawson

A nine-year-old boy who feels "all hope is lost" after being punched, kicked and strangled in the schoolyard remains in the same class as the child responsible.

A family was forced to send their daughter interstate to escape bullying and violence at school, after footage of her assault spread across social media last year.

These are some of the harrowing stories parents have shared with an ACT inquiry into school violence

Research explores role of gut bacteria in autism behaviours

Gabriella Rogers A new gut-based approach is being trialled in Australia in the hope of overcoming some of the challenges of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

ASD is a group of neurodevelopmental conditions which is often characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviours.

Males are four times more likely than females to have the condition.

Staged build will allow new Loftus school for children with autism to open quickly

Murray Trembath

Support is being sought from Sutherland Shire businesses to help equip a new primary school for children with autism at Loftus.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has received conditional development approval for the school on the site that already includes a TAFE college and University of Wollongong campus and the Cook School for children with challenging behaviour.

"Aspect is planning a staged build to allow students to move in, while some building continues," a spokeswoman said.

Man jailed over brutal, sustained attack on victim with Asperger syndrome

Relatives of Timothy Mason depart the County Court of Victoria
after the sentence was handed down.

A man who terrorised and beat a victim with Asperger syndrome for hours in regional Victoria has been jailed for at least eight years and eight months.

Timothy Mason, 27, was today sentenced to a total of 12 years and four months in prison by the County Court over the February 2018 crime at Geelong.

Mason kidnapped, beat and terrorised a man for up to 20 hours, leaving the victim unrecognisable to his mother.

NDIS a two-year 'nightmare' for Border mother

Struggles with NDIS requirements and the lack of support provided pushed a NSW mother to the point of considering foster care for her daughter.

Elizabeth Noone said she no longer wanted this, but described her experience with the National Disability Insurance Scheme over the past two years as "a nightmare".

Her daughter Jasmine, 11, has autism, an intellectual disability, epilepsy, diabetes, is non-verbal and often becomes agitated.

Here's what needs to happen to get the NDIS back on track

Helen Dickinson

More than 277,000 people have already benefited from the NDIS, but there’s room to improve.

In one of his first official public remarks since being re-elected, Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged that addressing failures in the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) would be a priority for the new government.

Stuart Robert has assumed the role of minister for the NDIS and will be charged with delivering on this important agenda.

So what does the new minister need to do to get the NDIS back on track?

Autistic woman's death 'not isolated' case

Perry Duffin

The death of a young woman in the bathroom of a Sydney group home shouldn't be seen as an isolated event and will be one of a number of cases submitted to a royal commission by a leading autism advocacy group.

Merna Aprem was weeks from her 21st birthday when she slipped below the water of her bath at a group home in Sydney's west last week. She couldn't be revived.

Her devastated mother, Tanya Petrus, is demanding to know how her daughter - who had epilepsy and autism - could have been left alone to die.

Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the CRPD, 11 – 13 June 2019

AFDO is pleased to be participating again this year in the 12th Session of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  CoSP will be held from 11th to 13th June 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

AFDO and A4 are co-sponsoring a side event, "Leave No Autistic Mother Behind: Autism and Motherhood – Experiences, Challenges and Positive Strategies",  on Thursday 13th June from 3pm – 4:15pm (New York time).

Mum demands answers after death in care

Perry Duffin

The invitations for Merna Aprem's 21st have been sent out but, instead of celebrating a milestone birthday, the avid Star Wars fan will next week be laid to rest in her party dress.

The autistic and epileptic 20-year-old had lived at a group home in Sydney's west for a few months when she slipped below the water in the bathtub and drowned last Thursday, her mother Tanya Petrus told AAP.

"She'd written all her birthday invitations," the grieving mother said through tears.

SA: Family struggling to find carers for autistic daughter despite NDIS funding

Helen Campbell knows the risk her daughter Annie poses. Her needs have been deemed so complex, that the South Australian Government has funded two carers at once to look after her in recent years.

Despite current funding through Disability SA, Ms Campbell and her eldest daughter Lisa have struggled to find agencies or carers willing to take Annie on a long-term basis.

She is worried this will only be more complicated when her daughter transitions to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) at the end of June.

Waleed Aly speaks about son’s autism diagnosis on The Project

Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly, who rarely speaks publicly about his family, has shared a very personal story about his son.

Waleed Aly has opened up about his son’s autism diagnosis, describing the moment he and his wife found out as a relief.

Discussing a segment about comedian Tom Gleisner’s work with Learning For Life Autism Centre, Aly spoke about how finding out his son Zayd had autism “opened up doors”.

“I know when we got our diagnosis for our son we actually had the opposite reaction to the guy in the package,” Aly said on Monday night.

Teenager with severe disabilities died after choking on latex glove, coronial inquest hears

The mother of a severely disabled teenager who died at an Adelaide care facility after swallowing a latex glove has told a coronial inquest she had warned carers that her daughter was at risk of putting things in her mouth.

Key points:

  • Sophia Nisco was left unattended at her Adelaide care facility
  • She put a latex glove in her mouth and was later found unresponsive
  • An inquest has heard two staff members were looking after four children at the time

Landmark summit on autism health care kicks off

A panel of autism scientists and advocates is charged with a tall order: making recommendations for the care of autistic people worldwide. The panel is slated to meet for the first time today after the 2019 International Society for Autism Research annual meeting in Montreal.

Convened by the journal The Lancet, the group includes more than 20 of the world’s leading autism researchers, clinicians and advocates. Its goal is to review research and make concrete suggestions on health care and health policy.

Autism Scorecard - Federal Election 2019

The Australian Autism Alliance released its 2019 federal election autism scorecard! It helps understand how the major parties will create #Change4Autism if elected to govern on Saturday 18 May.

Download the #Change4Autism campaign from!

The four major priorities of the Change4Autism Election Manifesto were:

  1. Urgent action to eliminate NDIS barriers to vital supports for autistic people
  2. A National Autism Strategy
  3. Establish a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with a disability
  4. High-impact, sustainable disability advocacy

Against these priorities the parties fared:

My friend and mentor Les Murray - autistic savant

British-born author Daniel Tammet corresponded with poet Les Murray, who died on April 29 aged 80, and translated his poems into French. In his 2017 book Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing, Tammet describes how Murray’s inspiring example helped him come to terms with being autistic. In this edited extract he recounts how he and Murray came to share a stage in Paris in 2015.

Daniel Tammet

The Australian poet Les Murray makes life hard for those who wish to describe him. It isn't only his work, some 30 books over 50 years. It is the man. In PR terms, Murray seems the antipode of Updikean dapperness, cold Coetzee intensity, Zadie Smith's glamour. His author photographs, which appear to be snapshots, can best be described as ordinary. The bald man's hat, the double chin, the plain T-shirt. A photograph, accompanying his New Selected Poems, shows him at a kitchen table, grandfatherly in his glasses. The artlessness is that of an autodidact. Murray has always written as his own man. Fashions, schools, even the occasional dictionary definition, he serenely flouts. To read him is to know him.


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