Rethink on NDIS autism strategy

, Social Affairs reporter; Melbourne

The bosses of the $22 billion ­National Disability Insurance Agency lamented their lack of control of the autism “narrative” at a meeting this year in which they finalised a plan to curb ballooning costs, documents show.

More than a year after The Australian revealed blowouts in South Australia’s autism trial by 100 per cent, having underestimated the numbers of children with developmental delays, the National Disability Insurance Scheme board met in late January to polish off an early intervention strategy that would rely on the politically correct — and cheaper — mantra of inclusion.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show the agency would outsource its planning and assessment of children aged up to six to providers who “will have a capacity to provide emotional support and guidance to families, lower intensity services and support inclusion for the child in mainstream settings”.

Government not intending its autism over-diagnosis claim

A report from  the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) said that in February 2014 the Department of Social Security (formerly FaHCSIA) funded $50,000 worth of research to establish "the extent of [ASD] over-diagnosis nationally". 

A Deputy Secretary of DSS wrote back that

this wording is not intended to presuppose the findings of the Autism CRC report.

The Department apparently accepts (does not deny) their wording clearly pre-supposes the existence of autism over-diagnosis. However, the actual intent is now unknown. It is hard to imagine how a contract could be signed without anyone noticing this (unintended?) presupposition. A4 will be disappointed in the Autism CRC if it undertook research based on the questionable premis that parents/families and/or professionals are fabricating diagnoses of a medical condition. Credible research would not presume over-diagnosis exists; it would first need to test whether over-diagnosis does exist.

New withdrawal-space guidelines for schools aimed at preventing another cage scandal

ACT schools must now follow strict new guidelines on placing students in withdrawal spaces, as part of the government's response to the autism cage scandal.

The guidelines stipulate that withdrawal spaces should not be locked and students must not be prevented from leaving.

But the protocols do include references to the potential use of physical restraint and seclusion under which a student can be confined in a room that they cannot leave. Both are considered one-off options of the last resort.

A Letter To Social Workers From Autistic Mother’s Struggling to Be Heard

Dear Social Worker,

Please understand that when you are dealing with an autistic child you may be communicating with an autistic parent.

When a mother is being misunderstood …

You may interpret her communication as obstructive when she has a social communication disability. She is doing her best. When you are starting to ‘get your back up’ please stop and rethink and rephrase.

Marking Autism Awareness Day, UN officials call for inclusive societies

1 April 2016 – On the eve of the World Autism Awareness Day, United Nations officials highlighted the contributions to humanity by people with autism, noting that shunning them is a “violation of human rights” and a “waste of human potential.”

Addressing a commemorative event this morning, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft stressed that “autism and other forms of disability are part of the human experience that contributes to human diversity.”

CDC estimates 1 in 68 school-aged children have autism; no change from previous estimate

An estimated 1 in 68 (14.6 per 1,000) school-aged children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a CDC report published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Surveillance Summary. This report shows essentially no change in ASD prevalence, the proportion of school aged-children with ASD, from the previous report released in 2014. However, it is too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize. CDC will continue tracking ASD prevalence to better understand changes over time.

Dodgy report clears Victoria's schools to cage special needs students

Dear colleague

The attached document has taken half a day to prepare but only scratches the surface of this appalling corrupt investigation into Bendigo SDS.

If you have Facebook pages that parents of children attending Bendigo SDS may access, please post this. It is important that they have an understanding that the recent letter they received from the Department of Education is misleading.

EXPLAINER: why everyone’s talking about autism and the NDIS

You might have noticed that talk of children with autism and the NDIS is everywhere today – including some pretty angry commentary. Here’s a look at what’s happened and why people are concerned.

What’s happened?

The NDIA, the government agency responsible for the NDIS, released its approach to early childhood intervention for children with developmental delay or disability.It’s called the Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach, or ECEI.

NDIS released its Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach

There is a new section (26/2/2016) on the NDIS website with links to new documents about early intervention generally and specifically about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Prof Roberts, this time with Prof. Williams, produced another report in the ongoing series of government reports about early intervention for autism.

Government mental disorder report ignores autism

Dear Prime Minister

The Health Department's recent report on The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in Australia does not once mention autism. In this respect, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia regards the report as negligent. The report was signed off by the Health Minister.

Autism is a growing issue for Governments in Australia since:

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