News by Region

Children's access to disability funding depending on where they live dubbed 'developmental apartheid'

Children with developmental delays such as autism have become the victims of postcode discrimination, with some in poorer suburbs waiting hundreds of days for the crucial diagnosis often needed to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Key points:

  • ABC investigation finds children with disabilities in poorer areas are facing longer wait times
  • One child waited 697 days to be seen, with another on the list for 640 days before being assessed
  • Parents have described the stress their families have endured while they wait

Unlike 'Atypical' and 'The Good Doctor,' 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Actually Cast an Autistic Actor

From the moment the trailer for Freeform's newest show, Everything's Gonna Be Okay, dropped, viewers were wondering whether actress Kayla Cromer was really autistic.

That's because the trailer for the show, which premiered Jan. 16, opens with a little girl taking the podium at her father's funeral. "Hello, I will be doing dad's eulogy," begins this glasses-wearing blonde's endearingly humorous speech. "I have autism."

Netflix show Atypical and Rain Man don't tell the real story of living with autism

Australian society seems to be afraid of telling stories about people with disabilities that show the truth of what it really is: difficult, challenging, exhausting and sometimes painful.

Authentic representation matters and when creators, writers and the TV networks get these stories wrong, it distorts how society views people with a disability.

Severity of autism symptoms varies greatly among identical twins

Findings from NIH-funded study could inform treatment strategies.


Identical twins with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience large differences in symptom severity even though they share the same DNA, according to an analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings suggest that identifying the causes of this variability may inform the treatment of ASD-related symptoms. The study was conducted by John Constantino, M.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues. Funding was provided by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study appears in Behavior Genetics.

Autism and Bushfire Emergencies

Bushfire season is a stressful time for all of us, including children on the autism spectrum. Children on the autism spectrum can sense that adults around them are anxious, fearful and overwhelmed. Additionally, their anxiety increases as their routines, schedules and living situations are disrupted during the fires.

We would like to offer some suggestions for you to help your child adjust to the changes and the stresses related to the fires.

Children with autism in WA 'languishing' in mental health wards, youth advocates say

Rhiannon Shine

Children with autism are languishing in mental health wards for "months", leaving others stuck on emergency departments for days waiting for an admission, according to Western Australia's chief mental health advocate.

Key points:

  • Ms Colvin has written to the State Government calling for urgent action
  • She says one child had to wait up to five days to access urgent mental health care
  • The Government says hospital discharge delays are due to the transition to the NDIS

Early Treatment for Autism Is Critical, New Report Says

Perri Klass, M.D.

Experts urge early identification and referral for treatment, even if a formal diagnosis has not been confirmed.

In December, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a new clinical report on autism, an extensive document with an enormous list of references, summarizing 12 years of intense research and clinical activity. During this time, the diagnostic categories changed — Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, diagnostic categories that once included many children, are no longer used, and we now consider all these children (and adults) to have autism spectrum disorder, or A.S.D.

Australians with autism are getting support to start their own businesses

Sandra Fulloon

Many people with autism have never held a paid job, but at an innovative program is helping some young entrepreneurs break the cycle.

Of the 250,000 Australians diagnosed with autism, fewer than half have ever held paid work, despite having the skills and qualifications.

That was the finding of a new study commissioned by autism body AMAZE.

Of those who do gain work, more than 20 per cent say they have lost a job due to their symptoms.

Australian police are being trained to improve interactions with people with autism

Amelia Dunn

People with autism say they are often misunderstood by police as being suspicious or rude. One Australian organisation is hoping to change that. Being pulled over for a routine random breath test shouldn’t be a reason for anxiety.

But for Emma Gallagher, who has autism, interactions with police can become difficult, quickly.

“The way police communicate is not exactly developed for people like me,” the 31-year-old researcher from Sydney told SBS News.

Emma recounted the time police asked her if she’d had anything to drink.

Oliver's family had to pay thousands of dollars for him to be diagnosed with autism, or wait two years for public therapy

Ellen Coulter

Stephanie Maass was told her son Oliver needed occupational therapy and speech therapy when he was just 19 months old.

Key points:

  • Stephanie Maass's family paid $4,000 for her son to receive private occupational and speech therapy to avoid the public system's waitlist
  • Her son, Oliver, was diagnosed with autism and was eligible for funding through the NDIS
  • The NDIS rolled out in Tasmania in July, with 10,600 people identified as eligible

Young Perth man with autism rips it up as he finds his business niche

A 21-year-old autistic man from Perth has expanded into his first official business premises after finding his calling in life: professional paper shredding.

Brandon Tomic is nonverbal – he can speak for the purposes of requesting something, but not hold full conversations, and so his mother Simone Tomic asked if she could speak for him in this report.

After Brandon finished school at 18, Simone and her husband Rob wanted him to be able to work like any other adult.

Darkest moments: Why two mothers are considering giving up their children

It’s not as if Deborah Frith wants to put her eight-year-old son Jacob in a group home. She loves him deeply, and would give anything to protect him. But looking after a boy who has autism and severely challenging, often violent, behaviours has pushed the sole parent to her breaking point.

“I absolutely adore my child and I'd move hell and high water to keep him,” she says. “But it’s too much to sustain without the correct support. It’s a very unfortunate situation where you’re forced to suggest the things that come to you in your darkest moments.”

TIME 2019 Person of the Year: Greta Thunberg

Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes and Justin Worland

Greta Thunberg sits in silence in the cabin of the boat that will take her across the Atlantic Ocean. Inside, there’s a cow skull hanging on the wall, a faded globe, a child’s yellow raincoat. Outside, it’s a tempest: rain pelts the boat, ice coats the decks, and the sea batters the vessel that will take this slight girl, her father and a few companions from Virginia to Portugal. For a moment, it’s as if Thunberg were the eye of a hurricane, a pool of resolve at the center of swirling chaos. In here, she speaks quietly. Out there, the entire natural world seems to amplify her small voice, screaming along with her.

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt. “That is all we are saying.”

Report paints scathing picture of NDIS workforce failures

A report has painted a grim picture of the life of a disability care worker under the NDIS and questions whether the scheme will be able to achieve  the historic social reform it promised.

The report from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work says the NDIS has fundamentally changed the nature of work and employment in the disability sector – and not necessarily for the better.

New Plan To Support Victoria’s Autism Community

The Andrews Labor Government has released a five-year plan to provide autistic Victorians greater opportunities for choice and community participation.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan today launched the Victorian Autism Plan with representatives of the Autism Plan Advisory Group who contributed to the plan’s development.

The Victorian Autism Plan sets out actions to improve the lives of autistic Victorians and their families and carers, backed by $7.1 million in funding.


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