News/Announcements

SA: Mainstream classes full of students with special needs, union survey finds

Tim Williams

TEACHERS are facing classrooms where the majority of students in front of them have disabilities, learning difficulties or trauma-related conditions, a union survey has found.

More than 100 South Australian teachers, classroom support workers and parents made reports to a one-off Australian Education Union hotline in a single afternoon.

Desperate parents to set up own autism school to help their kids

Jane Hansen

A LACK of options for their severely autistic children has forced a group of desperate parents to open their own school.

Julia Coorey, whose four-year-old son Michael is non-verbal and at the severe end of the spectrum, said her child — and many like him — needed one-on-one teaching if they were ever going to be “functioning human beings”.

“Our kids are all on the severe end of the spectrum,” Ms Coorey told The Sunday Telegraph.

Children with autism showing increasing anxiety through primary school – study

Deborah Marshall

A world-first autism study has found high levels of anxiety in children as young as five years old with autism attending Australian schools, and that levels of generalised anxiety increase as they get older.

Published in the Journal of School Psychology this week, the study surveyed teachers using a standardised ranking method to identify anxiety symptoms of 92 children aged 5-12 years in mainstream and special schools.

Researchers from the Griffith University Autism Centre of Excellence analysed two groups of children – those who had just started school and those about to move from primary to high school.

NDIS Under Attack During Emotional Q&A Debate

Jessica Dunne

"We have to band together and make sure that we get the NDIS that we deserve."

Under-staffing, failing technology and inconsistencies in classifications were the main issues discussed about the National Disability Insurance Scheme on ABC's Q&A.

The emotionally charged episode heard the experiences of those with disabilities and carers, as they battled the system to access funding from the NDIS, which is still being rolled out around the country.

'I rewrote my NDIS letter to give other special needs families some much-needed laughter'

Jo Abi

It's never a good day when my son's NDIS plan comes up for review.

NDIS is the National Disability Insurance Scheme which provides funding for my son with autism's treatment.

Medicare only provides partial funding and my private health insurance gives us a whopping $500 each year to use.

With a weekly occupational therapy session that costs $176, not to mention speech, food and anxiety therapy, making ends meet is virtually impossible for special needs families. And I haven't even factored in the enormous cost of his special needs schooling.

The dark side of autism pioneer Hans Asperger

by Julia Boyd

To anyone who thought of Hans Asperger as a brilliant doctor whose pioneering work in child psychiatry led to a more enlightened understanding of autism, Edith Sheffer's book, Asperger's Children (WW Norton), will come as a nasty shock. At first, he seems set to emerge a hero. After all, anyone who could write in Vienna in 1938 that doctors had "the right and the duty" to invest "intensively and emotionally" in autistic children because those "who fall out of the norm and are difficult need experience, love, and full commitment from the educator" must surely have been brave as well as humane. Some months before Asperger wrote those words, which express the kind of liberal medical outlook we associate with our own times, the chairman of the Hereditary Health Supreme Court had asked the head of Hitler's SS, Heinrich Himmler, to send him "a hundred classified homosexuals" for experimental purposes.

Family opens up on 60 Minutes about how son’s autism is tearing them apart

THIS family lives in fear because of violent outbursts from their beloved autistic son Max. It meant they faced a heartbreaking decision.

THEY’RE the brave steps of a family desperate to protect themselves and take control of a life being torn apart.

And they’ve seen Liz and Sean Whelan take the most difficult of decisions to look after their 12-year-old son Max, and at the same time protect their family against a condition none of them control.

60 Minutes taken to task for 'undignified' autism segment

Benjamin Millar

The peak body for people on the autism spectrum and their families* has criticised a TV program for airing confronting footage of an autistic boy acting violently towards his mother.

Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes screened a report on Sunday night featuring Max Whelan, a 12-year-old boy with severe non-verbal autism who lives with his family at Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula.

The AAT Slams the NDIA's "unsatisfactory state of affairs"

It is not commonplace for public servants or members of the judiciary to publically implore or reprimand government ministers or other public bodies. These are people who take the separation of powers very seriously. This makes the decision of the Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), Gary Humphries to attack the NDIA and urge ministerial intervention even more extraordinary.

Tribunal blasts NDIA over 'haphazard' handling of Canberra woman's case

Doug Dingwall

An appeals tribunal has called for Social Services Minister Dan Tehan to stop "haphazard" decision-making at the National Disability Insurance Agency blamed for delays in reviews involving support for a Canberra woman.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme participant, whose name was suppressed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, asked the agency to review new plans that reduced her support compared to her first one.

Magnet treatment could improve social skills of young people with autism

Aisha Dow

When she was a little girl, Lydia Zahra wanted to socialise just like everyone else, but she often struggled to understand the unwritten rules of communicating due to her autism.

“I would want to talk and want to talk about myself, but I didn’t really know how to ask people questions,” the 19-year-old said.

“It seemed a bit rude.”

Lydia Zahra was diagnosed with autism as a young child.

Teen 'antagonised' on Instagram before autistic boy bashed, court told

Editorial: in our view, this story is biased against the autistic victims - see below.

Amber Wilson

A teenager accused of bashing an autistic boy alongside two spanner-wielding friends was "antagonised" on Instagram before the fight, a Melbourne court has been told.

The 15-year-old, who is on bail, is likely to avoid a criminal conviction if he is deemed suitable for a diversion program to take his matter out of the court system.

NDIS online blackout as autism diagnosis rejected

Rick Morton

A list of psychologists ­approved by the federal government to offer autism diagnosis and treatment services disappeared from the ­internet around the same time the National Disability Insurance Agency began telling people their diagnoses were invalid unless performed by a clinical psychologist.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder practitioner list, maintained by the Australian Psychological Society as a federal government requirement, included psychologists from a range of fields, not just clinical professionals.

Tribunal lashes National Disability Insurance Agency managers

Rick Morton

The managers of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme have been excoriated for being “slow”, lacking transparency and being potentially “bloody-minded” in the way they seek to quash appeals by people with disabilities.

In an extraordinary decision, Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Gary Humphries has attacked the National Disability Insurance Agency for tearing through legal resources simply because it has such a “haphazard” approach to making decisions.

NDIS funding slashed when Newcastle teenager with autism and epilepsy needs the support more than ever

Anita Beaumont

IF Luke and Katrina Horn both worked nine-to-five jobs, they say there is “no way” they could cover the care of their 18-year-old son under his latest National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan.

Dillon Horn, of Newcastle, has autism and epilepsy, and he is non-verbal.

Until now, Dillon has not needed “a lot” in terms of his NDIS plan because he was attending a special development school, full time.

Children with disability face deep-seated discrimination in Victorian schools, Monash University report shows

Victorian children with disability continue to experience discrimination, exclusion and disadvantage in mainstream government schools, according to a report by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University.

Sarah Joseph, Director of the Castan Centre, said that while the Victorian Government has taken positive steps in recent years to improve educational outcomes for students with disability, shortcomings persist, potentially breaching children’s rights under Victorian and Commonwealth human rights and anti-discrimination laws.

Autistic man's home modified to be 'step down' from prison isolation after trauma

A Melbourne man with a profound intellectual disability and autism, who was accused of assault and then left in a high-security prison because there was nowhere else for him to go, has had his charges dropped by Victorian prosecutors.

Francis was sent to prison because no service provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would take him.

He spent two months behind bars and was granted bail in October last year after the ABC's 7.30 program revealed he was spending 23 hours a day in lockdown at the high-security Melbourne Assessment Prison.

"It's been horrific," said his mother, Janet.

Autistic 15yo's accommodation likened to 'dog kennel'; Government 'comfortable' with standards

Rhiana Whitson

A Hobart grandmother has accused a not-for-profit disability services provider of housing her 15-year-old grandson in substandard conditions, with the organisation telling the ABC people with profound autism can be "volatile and destructive" towards furniture and property.

The grandmother, who the ABC has renamed Kathleen for legal reasons, also alleged the state of the boy's accommodation shocked even an employee of the organisation.

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