News by Region

Staffing boost for young autistic man confined to a dingy room

Daile Cross

The young Perth man confined to a dingy bedroom in a Department of Communities house will be allocated an extra staff member to support him during the night.

Yesterday Karen Parkinson told how her son Reece, who has autism spectrum disorder and some very challenging and sometimes destructive behaviours, spends most of his time locked in a bedroom with two mattresses on the floor and an ice-cream container for a toilet. His window is boarded up, and there are four locks on the door.

As a parent of two kids with autism, I've learned how much attitudes have changed

Cathy Pryor

The realisation that my son Lucien saw the world in a different light came slowly, but there were small clues along the way.

Once, when asked to describe the colour of a banana, he answered white, not yellow. (When you think about it, he could well be right: while the skin is yellow, the flesh is much paler than that.)

And then there was the endearing way he followed the squares on a rug when he was learning to walk.

USA: One in 40 U.S. Kids Could Have Autism, Says a New Study. Here's Why That Figure Is Already a Matter of Debate

By Brittany Shoot

One in every 40 children in the United States could have autism or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new article published in the journal Pediatrics.

By contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the estimate at one in 59 children having ASD nationwide.

The true number of children with autism in the U.S. may be somewhere in the middle. And the reason for that discrepancy may have to do with how the data was collected. The study published in Pediatrics relied on numbers from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, which is based on reporting from 50,000 parents of children ages 17 and under.

Young children with autism can thrive in mainstream childcare

Kristelle Hudry, La Trobe University and Cathy Bent, La Trobe University

Much of the research about including children with autism in mainstream classrooms is focused on school-aged children. Growing numbers of children with autism are diagnosed in toddlerhood, so there is increasing relevance for the early-childhood sector. Our new research shows, with support, educators can effectively include and teach children on the spectrum in mainstream childcare, alongside their non-autistic peers.

Programs to support learning in key areas - language, cognition and independence skills - have been found to be effective for many children with autism. But we need options that are also affordable and accessible within children’s local communities. Many families ferry children around to appointments with different professionals, employ therapists to come into the home, or travel long distances to specialist centres.

National Disability Insurance Scheme builds on Helping Children with Autism success

As Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) celebrates its 10th anniversary, providers and families are looking to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to continue the important work started by the program.

HCWA was introduced by the Australian Government in 2008 to help families access crucial early intervention services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Since its introduction, HCWA has helped almost 53,000 children and their families with more than $550 million in early intervention services including social learning intervention, behaviour management, occupational therapy, speech pathology and cognitive and learning skills.

Why early diagnosis of autism should lead to early intervention

Research suggests children can be reliably diagnosed with autism before the age of two. It also shows that many of the behavioural symptoms of autism are present before the age of one.

These behaviours include decreased interest in social interaction, delayed development of speech and intentional communication, a lack of age-appropriate sound development, and unusual visual fixations.

The Chase's Governess 'breaks' autism website after discussing condition on I'm a Celebrity

By Robert Moran

Anne Hegerty, the stoic Governess on Seven quiz show The Chase, has earned praise from viewers for speaking openly about her Asperger's condition on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Hegerty, 60, is currently appearing in the UK version of the reality hit, being filmed in Springwood National Park on the NSW north coast.

After admitting she was struggling in the season's first episode, Hegerty opened up to her castmates about her experience with Asperger's, which she was diagnosed with at age 45.

$4 million to fund research into Autism

The Liberal National Government will provide nearly $4 million in funding for new research into autism, helping find better diagnosis, treatment and care for those affected by the developmental condition.

The research funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council has been allocated for five projects across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

Adults on the autism spectrum prescribed mental health drugs without diagnoses

Lachlan Gilbert

Off-label prescribing of psychotropic drugs to adults on the autism spectrum could be exposing individuals to harm.

Adults on the autism spectrum are being prescribed mental health drugs in instances where there is limited supporting evidence to do so.

This was one of the findings of a UNSW-led study that looked at the use of psychotropic medication – or medication for mental health problems – by adults on the autism spectrum.

How history forgot the woman who defined autism

Grunya Sukhareva characterized autism nearly two decades before Austrian doctors Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. So why did the latter get all the credit?

It was 1924 when the 12-year-old boy was brought to the Moscow clinic for an evaluation. By all accounts, he was different from his peers. Other people did not interest him much, and he preferred the company of adults to that of children his own age. He never played with toys: He had taught himself to read by age 5 and spent his days reading everything he could instead. Thin and slouching, the boy moved slowly and awkwardly. He also suffered from anxiety and frequent stomachaches.

"It’s different for girls": autistic girls face unique challenges in their relationships

A new study shows that autistic girls are not getting the support they need to help them develop their friendships.

The study’s senior co-author is Professor Liz Pellicano, an internationally renowned expert on autism based at Macquarie University.

Researchers interviewed 102 children: 27 autistic girls, 27 autistic boys, 26 neurotypical (non-autistic) girls, and 23 neurotypical boys.

Autistic and non-autistic girls described similar approaches to friendship, with a focus on developing friends who they could depend on for social and emotional support.

Hyping Autism Research "News" Is a Disservice to People with Autism

Alycia Halladay


It’s also harmful to serious science

Click-worthy health and science headlines are an essential currency in today’s media world. When they pertain to autism, they might include phrases like “groundbreaking trial,” “offer hope” or “game-changer.” But for people with autism and their families, these headlines and the research news stories they highlight often bring false hope, confusion—or worse.

Children with autism show improvements in mainstream schooling

Children with autism do just as well in mainstream education as they do in specialised facilities, a new study has found.

In a world first, researchers at La Trobe University found children on the autism spectrum have flourished in mainstream classes and have had no negative impacts on other kids in their learning groups.

Duncan was one of 44 toddlers involved in a study that put children with autism in classes with children who don't to see if they coped better in a tailored facility.

Study links autism to toxic air pollutants


Children aged up to three years are more at risk of developing autism when exposed to toxic air pollutants, an Australian study shows.

Young children exposed to toxic air pollutants are significantly more likely to develop autism, new Australian research reveals.

The study of nearly 1500 children in China, aged up to three years, found those exposed to fine particles from some outdoor pollutants were up to 78 per cent more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder.

Parents made secret recordings of FaCS worker abusing autistic boy

Lennard Michael Downes

Angela Thompson

A magistrate is considering the fate of an Illawarra FaCs carer accused of assaulting a mute autistic boy, after the child’s parents took the extraordinary step of planting a recording device in their son’s bag in a bid to explain his bruises. 

In distressing audio recordings played to Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, Lennard Michael Downes is heard calling the boy a "f---ing c---" and threatening to hit him if he doesn’t eat.

‘Inappropriate IQ test’ results in ‘tens of thousands’ misdiagnosed with intellectual disability

Patrick Abboud

One in four children with disabilities is turned away from mainstream schools in Australia. Experts claim many of these children have been misdiagnosed with intellectual disabilities based on inappropriate IQ tests administered by the Department of Education.

See the source for the video ...


NDIS Independent Assessment Pilot

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) today announced a pilot which will use independent health professionals with experience in disability to undertake functional assessments, so that participants are able to access and use appropriate supports through the NDIS.

The NDIA will be piloting the use of independent health professionals who will use standardised tools that help determine the functional impact a person's disability has on their capacity to engage in the community, work place, and social activities.

Disability Groups Cautious Over NDIS Independent Assessment Pilot

Luke Michael

Disability advocates say they will be closely watching an independent assessments trial to ensure it achieves its stated aims of fairer access and planning decisions for National Disability Insurance Scheme participants, rather than reducing access to the scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Agency last week announced an independent assessment pilot aimed at improving the consistency, accuracy and reliability of NDIA decision-making.


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