'It's soul destroying': NDIS teething problems make many feel they're not worth the help

boy lying on floor

"Trying to contain a hurricane," is how Briana Blackett describes life as the sole parent of two boys with autism.

Key points:

  • Complaints that the NDIS is not delivering the help needed by patients
  • NDIS acknowledges teething problems and promises to 'significantly improve'
  • Productivity Commission to hand down NDIS inquiry recommendations

"Max can just out of nowhere start screaming, like horror film screaming, pinching himself, biting himself, throwing himself on the ground," she said.

"I have to decide which child to go to, the child who is hurting himself, or the child who emotionally is so traumatised by this that he's trashing everything."

How do you solve the trickiest problems in the workplace? Employ more autistic people

man behind desk looking into camera

Neurodiversity can be a huge advantage for companies, yet people on the spectrum have often been marginalised. Now some firms are specifically seeking them out. Is this a crucial turning point?

Five minutes from London’s Liverpool Street station is an office that looks like any other office in the tech industry: the decor is 21st century, pristine; takeaway coffee cups are omnipresent; most people under 30 are in casualwear. Just about everyone seems to be either staring at a smartphone, tapping at a laptop, or sprinting to their next appointment.

The company I’ve come to visit is called Auticon, an award-winning IT business. As well as the staff in the office, it employs 15 IT consultants who spend most of their time working elsewhere for companies such as pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the credit rating agency Experian, and Allianz Insurance. But there is a fascinating twist: all of the 15 are autistic, and have been given their jobs after long spells of unemployment – not out of charity or sympathy, but a deep appreciation of the attributes they bring to their work.

Fears of more abuse to disabled children if NSW Government scrap advocacy funding

Brigid Glanville

Disability groups fear there could be more unreported abuse of children in schools as the New South Wales Government plans to cut funding to advocacy groups.

The plans to cut disability advocacy funding from June 2018 come after ABC's 7.30 program revealed that in the last two years there were 246 reported incidents of abuse or neglect to disabled students in NSW schools.

Government investigates 246 reports of abuse of disabled children in NSW schools

mother, child and father walking down a road

Georgina Marker-North said it appeared her son Thomas was strapped
to restraint chairs at school "probably at least every day, probably for
hours a day". Photo: 7.30/ABC

Andrew Taylor

A leading advocate for children with disabilities has accused the NSW government of failing to properly investigate allegations of child abuse.

David Roy, a lecturer in education at the University of Newcastle, said teachers feared losing their jobs if they report mistreatment, while abusers were protected.

ABC 7.30 Report: Mum 'gobsmacked' at school's response to autistic son being tied to restraining chair

Warning: this is a very distressing story

Brigid Glanville

A mother whose autistic son was strapped to a restraining chair in class was asked if she would prefer a "more aesthetically pleasing chair" when she confronted the school about the seven-year-old's treatment.

The video for this story is at

Key points:

  • Almost 250 reported incidents of abuse or neglect of disabled students in government schools since 2015
  • Complaints include children being strapped into restraining chairs
  • Abuse includes physical abuse and neglect

Anger after police pin young child to ground in arrest

Police have been filmed arresting a young boy while telling him to "shut up" in Victoria.

The video, which was uploaded to Facebook, appears to show at least three officers pinning the 12-year-old boy to the ground at Bendigo Railway Station on Friday.

With his face pressed against the concrete, the boy, who police believed at the time to have autism, is held down by the officers.

"He's got autism so he doesn't understand," one officer can be heard saying.

Two women on trial over autistic teen found murdered and buried under concrete

boy's face

Tim Clarke

A YOUNG man with autism was targeted for murder by two woman who lured him to their home, stabbed and garotted him and then buried his body under a concrete slab and floor tiles in the back garden, a court has been told.

Jemma Victoria Lilley, 26, and Trudi Claire Lenon, 43, today went on trial for the murder of 18 year old Aaron Pajich who went missing from Rockingham in June last year.

Many traits we attribute to autism or Asperger’s were once regarded as eccentricities

WE all know them — the shy schoolboy who sits alone studying maths while the other kids frolic in the playground, the teen girl who simply will not stop talking despite the obvious signs of boredom from her friends, or the majestically gifted musician who fails to pass a single subject at school.

Chances are that if any of these people sought specialist help because they felt they were struggling to “be like everyone else”, they could be diagnosed with a degree of autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

Laser Beak Man: how an artist with autism created his own superhero

 Laser Beak Man is a character that appears in
the vast majority of Sharp’s art.
Photograph: Supplied: Brisbane festival

Art was Tim Sharp’s way of communicating as a child; now it’s inspiration for a joyful 90 minutes of puppetry, live music, animation and dad jokes

 Laser Beak Man is a character that appears in the vast majority of Sharp’s art. Photograph: Supplied: Brisbane festival

Tim Sharp takes things literally. Consider the term “flat white”. Most of us would imagine our morning coffee, perhaps being served to us by a bearded barista. Sharp, however, sees a steamroller and a rather unfortunate Anglo person.

Sharp is an artist with autism, who communicates his unique perspective on the world through quirky, hilarious and colourful drawings. The words “Virgin Mobile”, for example, see cherubic young men and women spinning from a ceiling fan. The hymn Then Sings My Soul translates to a shoe opening like a mouth, spewing forth music. And a figure standing in front of a bright green crop of footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls with a watering can – well, if you have trouble with that one, click here.

Parents take children's disability discrimination claims to court

Disability advocates warn that schools are separating children at public and private schools because of their disability.

A Melbourne mum is suing the Victorian Department of Education and Training over allegations her autistic son was separated from his peers in the classroom and in the playground, and not provided adequate support at school.

sound available at

Why the world expert on Asperger's took 30 years to notice condition in his own son

Tony Attwood speaking

 Prof Tony Attwood describes his 35-year-old son
Will as a hero. Photograph: Mark Graham/AAP

Prof Tony Attwood, an internationally renowned clinical psychologist, was blindsided when he realised his son Will had the syndrome

Will Attwood has been addicted to drugs for the past two decades, an affliction which has seen the 35-year-old jailed multiple times and reliant on support from his family.

Asperger's syndrome: How 'Aspie' diagnosis slipped past world expert Tony Attwood

How did a world expert in autism miss a diagnosis right under his nose?

That's the question that Professor Tony Attwood still mulls over and deeply regrets.

The clinical psychologist is recognised as a leading authority in the diagnosis and management of Asperger's syndrome.

But all his skills and research couldn't help his son Will.

It was only when the 35-year-old ended up with an overwhelming drug addiction and in jail for burglary that Professor Attwood had a sudden insight.

Disability services slammed for Vic rapes

A man accused of raping a fellow resident at a disability group home also sexually assaulted two other people on multiple occasions, the Victorian Ombudsman has found.

Disability services provider Autism Plus and the Department of Health and Human Services put clients at risk by failing to move the man despite repeated warnings, a report published by the ombudsman concluded.

Concerns were raised about "Edward", who cannot be identified, in October 2014, but he was not moved until he allegedly raped another resident six months later, Ombudsman Deborah Glass said.

Damning report into NSW schools finds 'unacceptable' mistreatment

photo of Carlos (neutral expression)

Nicole Lim says her son Carlos Blanch is traumatised
by injuries he allegedly sustained at school. Photo: Supplied

For nearly six months, Nicole Lim says her son Carlos Blanch, who has autism and is non-verbal, came home from school every week with cuts and bruises on his arms and legs.

The first time it happened, in March this year, Ms Lim went straight to the principal to ask for better supervision for Carlos, 11, who is in year 5.

"It was completely disregarded, nothing ever happened," Ms Lim said.

TV has come a long way in depicting characters with autism, but not far enough

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory. 

Darren Devlyn, Fiona Sharkie

It's time to forget Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning role in Rain Man and embrace the more nuanced depictions of autism in recent TV shows.

For too long, Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man was the only touchstone many of us had for autism.

While Hoffman's performance was met with resounding applause, a consequence of the movie's success was that it created an autism trope that the movie and TV industries were loath to shake.

Canberra families may relinquish children amid NDIS funding shortfalls

Sherryn Groch

Young Canberrans with high needs could be locked out of respite care by Christmas unless a last-minute solution is found to "critical" funding shortfalls under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

As families warn they will be forced to surrender care of their children without the regular break of respite, advocates are calling for an urgent intervention in the territory to address the "market failure" of services.

New autism diagnosis guidelines miss the mark on how best to help children with developmental problems

The first national guidelines for diagnosing autism were released for public consultation last week. The report by research group Autism CRC was commissioned and funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in October 2016.

The NDIS has taken over the running of federal government early intervention programs that provide specialist services for families and children with disabilities. In doing so, they have inherited the problem of diagnostic variability. Biological diagnoses are definable. The genetic condition fragile X xyndrome, for instance, which causes intellectual disability and development problems, can be diagnosed using a blood test.

Autism diagnosis, by contrast, is imprecise. It’s based on a child’s behaviour and function at a point in time, benchmarked against age expectations and comprising multiple simultaneous components. Complexity and imprecision arise at each stage, implicit to the condition as well as the process. So, it makes sense the NDIS requested an objective approach to autism diagnosis.

Autistic boy in Sydney’s west is attacked by a group of thugs

AN AUTISTIC teen victim of a savage assault at a Sydney shopping mall has a simple, but shocking, answer when asked why he was targeted by the thugs.

SHOCKING video has emerged of a young autistic boy being savagely bashed by a gang of youths at a busy Sydney mall.

The 15-year-old boy is seen on the video standing with his head down as he types a message on his mobile phone. One of the youths shoulders him and causes him to stumble, while others in the gang stand around and watch. And film the encounter.

National autism diagnosis guidelines to make 'big difference for women on the spectrum'

Nance Haxton

National guidelines to help diagnose people with autism have been drafted for the first time in Australia by a team of experts.

The guidelines are the culmination of a year of research, and are designed to overcome the wide variation in diagnosis methods used between states and territories.


Subscribe to News/Announcements