Parents of high-functioning autistic children desperate for help

A WANDIN North mother is calling for more government help for carers of people with high functioning autism.

Two of Angela Jones’s four children have been diagnosed with the disorder, which she said placed a heavy emotional toll on her and other carers.

High functioning autism is a disorder that affects a person’s social and emotional behaviours. According to Aspergers Victoria, the boundaries between high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome are not clear — they are often considered the same disorder.

“They need structure and routine in their day,” Ms Jones said.

“They dislike change, are often socially awkward or uncomfortable or inappropriate, they are fearful of crowds, they have a lot of sensory issues and issues around food and sound and texture, they find it difficult expressing emotions appropriately.”

“I have to cook five different meals every night — I can’t go out socially or to a shopping centre without there being some kind of meltdown.”

Ms Jones said carers should have improved access to respite care and psychological therapy.

Evelyn state Liberal MP Christine Fyffe said she was regularly contacted by parents with autistic children who were concerned that services did not extend far enough for children with milder symptoms such as those with high functioning autism.

Mrs Fyffe said the Victorian Parliament’s family and community development committee was considering the adequacy of existing services as well as those to be provided through the NDIS.

She encouraged anyone who has a loved one with autism to make a submission to the inquiry.

There are several autism organisations that can help families and carers.

Amaze is funded to provide information and support to people with autism spectrum disorder, their families and professionals working with them. Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) is funded to deliver behaviour support training for carers and families.