On 3/2/2020, A4 sent its belated submission responding to the Disability Royal Commission's (DRC) Issues Paper on Education of students with disability. The submission was due in December, but A4 has limited resources to do this type of work. Hopefully, the DRC will consider A4's submission.
The submission makes the following suggestions to the Royal Commission.
Recognise that education outcomes for autistic Australians are unnecessarily poor, and that better outcomes must be achieved.
Ensure Australian law protects the right of autistic Australians to appropriate and effective education.
Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder should be as early as possible in a person’s life. Australia needs to bring the age of diagnosis much lower. It could start by getting waiting lists for diagnosis down to days rather than months or even years as is now the case.
Autistic children should have ready access to complete programs of best- practice early intervention for their ASD.
Governments need to recognise that diagnosis rates for ASD have risen substantially. Such growth has major workforce implications that need to be addressed.
The education workforce is not trained to educate autistic children in the numbers now seen in the Australian population. Major changes are needed in the workforce structure, their initial and ongoing training to adequately support autistic students.
Education outcomes for autistic students need to be fully monitored and reported within the education systems. Education systems ignore education outcomes for autistic students when they are only reported by the ABS.
Bullying in schools is a problem that is acute for autistic students. Governments need to recognise and address this major issue. It cannot be regarded as “affecting everyone” because it does not affect everyone in the same way.
Autistic students need specialist behaviour support from registered professionals both in and outside school.
A4's submission, In a class of their own, is available for download from the link below.
See also https://a4.org.au/node/2190 for further submissions.