News by Region

NI: Autism diagnoses children up by more than 100%

John Monaghan

The number of children being diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in five years.

Some health trusts have seen a three-fold increase and there are also 2,500 under-18s still waiting to be assessed.

Healthcare professionals and autism charities have pointed to increased awareness as a reason for the jump.

Kerry Boyd, the head of Autism NI, said her organisation is "inundated" with requests for support.

Ricky Stuart Foundation looks to open third centre across the border

Lachlan Roberts

The Ricky Stuart Foundation is looking to open a third respite centre for people with autism and other disabilities across the ACT border in Queanbeyan.

Having already established two respite houses – the Ricky Stuart House in Chifley and the Emma Ruby House in Cook, Canberra Raider’s coach Ricky Stuart is now hoping to establish the same service in his town of birth.

‘We just want to help kids’: Calls every teacher to receive autism training

Ben Fordham

The amount of students with a disability in schools is on the rise and teachers aren’t properly trained to handle the increase.

Autism rates across NSW schools are climbing 15 per cent each year, but only nine per cent of teachers are equipped to support them.

University of Newcastle lecturer David Roy helped to develop a new disability scheme and calls for all teachers to be properly trained.

“We just want to help kids,” he says.

Autism support groups warn of looming national high school crisis

Autism support groups have warned of an impending national crisis, as growing numbers of children diagnosed with autism reach high school age, with few options for specialised education and public schools with a dramatic shortage of trained staff.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Finding the right school for a child with autism can be difficult and frustrating for parents, and it's even harder when students reach high school.

Some families resort to home-schooling or teenagers may drop out altogether.

NSW schools face 'unprecedented' levels of disability

Jordan Baker

Schools in NSW are facing "unprecedented pressure" due to soaring disability rates, with the number of students with autism increasing by almost 15 per cent per year and those with mental health needs growing by more than five per cent.

Yet there are fewer staff trained to support them as the number of special education graduates fall and more than half of teachers admit to a lack of confidence in the area.

Coalition government must commit to a royal commission into violence & abuse of people with disability

Media release

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) commends the Senate for approving the motion last Thursday, from Green’s Senator Jordon Steele-John, to establish a Royal Commission (RC) into violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability in institutional and wider community settings across Australia.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten personally pledged his and the ALP’s commitment to a Royal Commission back in 2017, which we also commend. This has been followed up with an election promise of $26 million to get the Commission going; the ALP also supported the recent Senate motion along with others from the crossbench.

Why schools desperately need a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people

David Roy, University of Newcastle

On Monday, the federal parliament agreed on a motion to support a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people. This is a good thing, but we still need a timeline, terms of reference and a whole lot more detail.

This commission has been a long time coming. The stories we’ve heard over the last few years in the media have been devastating, such as a child with a disability being stripped naked and locked in a closet. We can expect the stories that will be revealed over the course of this royal commission to be similarly hard to hear.

What defines ‘success’ for autism treatments?

What makes a successful autism treatment depends on whom you ask. A researcher may judge a treatment based on the results of a clinical trial or on the outcome measure chosen. For an autistic person, the best measure of success might be an improvement in quality of life. To others, no ‘treatment’ makes sense for autism’s core features.

To get a glimpse of such disparate perspectives, we asked three researchers and two autistic people to tell us what a successful autism therapy looks like to them.

The Experts:

Autistic awesomeness

Angie Tomlinson

Work goes beyond financial independence. It often goes to the heart of a sense of satisfaction, self-worth and the ability to contribute to the community. It can be key to our well being.

Just as it applies to you or me, it is exactly the same for the one in 100 people with autism spectrum disorder.

Recognising the importance of employing those on the spectrum, and the benefits a neurodiverse workforce can offer, has never been more important as an increasing number of young adults diagnosed with ASD hit the job market.

Senate motion: National Disability Strategy


Senator Griff to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

  1. notes that:

    1. in 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that there were 164,000 Australians with an autism diagnosis and a prevalence rate of 2.8% for those aged between 5-14 years (around 81,000 children), though this does not reflect the large numbers of autistic adults who remain undiagnosed,

Reaching for the stars

Angie Tomlinson

Jacinta Reynolds is a terrible liar and a master storyteller. She has a science degree, majoring in physics and specialising in astrophysics. She also happens to have autism.

While her autism has seen her struggle with social behaviour, it has also been the 23-year-old’s not-so-secret weapon in excelling first at Scitech as a science communicator and today at West Perth software development company Optika Solutions as a data scientist and technical writer.

200 children on autism spectrum to 'have fun and defy status quo' surfing at Cronulla

Two hundred children on the autism spectrum will enjoy the thrill of surfing when a special event is held at Cronulla for the first time.

Parents have rushed to register their children for the experience on Sunday, February 24.

Country Autism Network has joined Surfers Healing Australia to run the free event, which started five years ago and has been expanded this year to three beaches.

Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Result puts autism front and centre

Katie Sutherland, Western Sydney University

Review: The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

Genetics Professor Don Tillman is having flashbacks. He’s remembering the time he spent in the principal’s office as a kid in Shepparton, Victoria. The time he spent learning to ride his sister’s bike, much later than was socially acceptable. The time he spent “regarding the majority of the human race as another species”.

Teachers need more professional development to support anxiety in students with autism

Professional development is needed to increase teacher knowledge about anxiety-related behaviours in students with autism after a Griffith University study found teachers report that they would respond differently to students with and without autism.

The study, published in the journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities, found that teachers report being more likely to use responses for children with autism that may increase the child’s anxiety levels in the long-term, such as over-protection or avoidance.

Neurodiversity: a different take on the autism tale

Jane McCredie

A FEW years ago, I attended a medical conference that was different from any other I’ve been to; alongside the doctors and researchers were large numbers of patients and their families, not just in the audience but on stage as well.

It may have happened, but I haven’t seen people with heart failure speak to their lived experience at a cardiology conference, or patients with arthritis giving presentations at a rheumatology conference.

Life changing autism surf camp coming to Australia

For more than 20 years now, a former champion surfer has been using his love of the ocean to help children with autism.

Now, his surf camps are coming to Australia.

Israel ‘Izzy’ Paskowitz discovered the incredible healing power of the ocean through his own son more than 20 years ago.

While on a beach in Hawaii, Izzy was struggling to handle one of Isaiah’s meltdowns when he picked him up and tossed him in the water.

Isaiah popped back above the water with a huge smile on his face and Surfers Healing was born.

UK: Autistic children need the world to acknowledge the significance of the challenges they face

Nick Hodge, Sheffield Hallam University

Autistic children are increasingly being suspended or expelled from school, because of “behavioural problems” official figures show. Some regions in the UK have seen a 100% increase in these types of exclusions since 2011.

Research carried out by myself and colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University demonstrates the devastating consequences these exclusions have for disabled children and their families.

Free workshop in Pirie for parents of children with autism

A free two-day workshop for parents and carers of children with autism is scheduled for Port Pirie in February and is backed by Geoff Brock.

The Independent Frome MP said it would be a “great initiative”.

“It will provide information about autism and improve understanding of the needs of school-aged students on the autism spectrum,” he said.

“I am happy to see it being held in Port Pirie for the benefit of Mid North families.”

The workshop will be at the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club from 9.30am to 2.30pm on February 12 and 13.


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