News/Announcements

Major parliamentary inquiry into autism

Matt Coughlan

Autism will be the subject of a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry looking at services, support and life outcomes for people on the spectrum.

The Senate on Wednesday established a select committee on autism which will look at the need for a national strategy.

Liberal senator and committee chair Hollie Hughes, whose 10-year-old son Fred has autism, said the inquiry would be the first of its kind.

Push for inquiry via Senate Select Committee on Autism

A motion to form a Select Committee on Autism is expected to pass the Senate later today.

The terms of reference were developed by Centre Alliance Senator, Stirling Griff, in conjunction with members of the Australian Autism Alliance.

The wide-ranging inquiry will look at issues including approaches to diagnosis, the availability and appropriateness of services including in health and mental health, education and employment, the adequacy of the NDIS, and the prevalence of misdiagnosis and any gender bias in assessment and services.

How a neuroscientist's infant son revolutionized our understanding of autism

Lorenz Wagner

In observing his son Kai, neuroscientist Henry Markram upended the dominant theory of the autistic mind

Henry Markram, the neuroscientist behind the billion-dollar Blue Brain Project to build a supercomputer model of the brain, has set the goal of decoding all disturbances of the mind within a generation. This quest is personal for him. The driving force behind his grand ambition has been his son Kai, who has autism. Raising Kai made Henry Markram question all that he thought he knew about neuroscience, and then inspired his groundbreaking research that would upend the conventional wisdom about autism, leading to his now-famous theory of the Intense World Syndrome. 

'It doesn't make sense': More than 600 kindy kids suspended last year

Jordan Baker

More than 600 kindergarten students were suspended from NSW primary schools last year, raising concerns small children are being sent home as punishment for undiagnosed disorders such as autism or ADHD.

Figures from the NSW Department of Education show the number of kindy students suspended rose from 398 in 2014 to 435 in 2016, then jumped to 514 in 2017. Last year, the figure reached 626.

It's 25 years since we redefined autism – here's what we've learnt

Andrew Whitehouse

It’s 25 years since the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) was published. The manual is the clinical “bible” that defines the criteria for the diagnosis of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions, and was a landmark document for autism spectrum disorder.

'Minimal progress': State sued for 'abandoning' autistic boy's education

The mother of a 17-year-old autistic boy has sued the state of Victoria over a government school’s alleged "abandonment" of her son’s education and failure to teach him the curriculum.

The case, which could have implications for thousands of families who believe their child has been excluded from learning due to a disability, is listed for a three-week hearing in the Federal Court next year.

The mother, whom The Age has chosen not to name, argues the school’s failure “to put intensive effort into his education” and instead fill her son's school days with “non-academic activities” has left him effectively illiterate, innumerate and unemployable.

Disability royal commission hears children made to sit in own urine, 'belittled' for needing to go to the bathroom

By Sofie Wainwright

A parent of children with disabilities and experience in the education system has told the disability royal commission students are being denied access to normal school facilities inside and outside the classroom.

Key points:

  • Witness AAC says one of her children was hit with his own hat by a teacher
  • Witness AAC says another of her children was told he was stupid after asking for instructions to repeated
  • She says she has seen children "dragged" down stairs and subjected to other restrictive practices

Mum of five's battle for disabled children

Robyn Wuth

Chair of the disability royal commission, Ronald Sackville QC, is hearing submissions in Queensland.

The mother of five disabled children says one was so scared of school he was given a photo of his mum and dad to take with him every day as a promise that he would come home.

She said some days her middle child's anxiety was so bad he would sit terrified in the car and refuse to go through the school gates, the disability commission was told during public hearings in Townsville on Tuesday.

'It was nasty': Children with disability bullied, belittled at school

Judith Ireland

A mother of five children with disabilities has told the disability abuse royal commission that one of her sons took a knife to school because he was so scared of bullies, while her daughter was belittled by a teacher for needing extra toilet breaks.

The woman told a hearing in Townsville on Tuesday that it was "absolutely exhausting and frustrating" trying to get schools to make changes so children with disability could be included.

UK: All inpatients with learning disability or autism to be given case reviews

Every inpatient with a learning disability or autism in a mental health hospital will have their case reviewed over the next 12 months.

All 2,250 patients with learning disabilities and autism who are inpatients in a mental health hospital will have their care reviewed over the next 12 months, the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced today.

Parenting a child on the autism spectrum delivers moments of heartbreak that are not easy to negotiate

Claire Spence

My son's best friend is his six-year-old sister.

It is not because he doesn't want friends: Fynn loves being around people.

But he is very aware that he is different, and to others different can be awkward and best avoided.

Fynn is nine and quite the comedian. He loves life and wears his heart on his sleeve. But he notices the confused, judgemental looks when he speaks and his words get muddled. He sees other kids lose interest when he responds to them by squealing and running around flapping his arms.

Disability royal commission: girl with Asperger's hid in garbage bin to avoid bullying

First day of hearings told multiple instances of violence led to anxiety that affected 10-year-old’s walking and speech

A 10-year-old girl who lives with Asperger syndrome was hit over the head, pushed from a pier and began hiding in a garbage bin to avoid further bullying, the disability royal commission has been told.

congratulating the Castledines on their win against the NDIS at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

On Wednesday 16 October 2019, Jake Castledine, and his mother, Janice Castledine, received the news that they won their three-year-long battle with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Jake, who is in his late twenties and has multiple disabilities including intellectual disability and autism, needs funded support 24/7. He didn’t have enough funding in his package before the NDIS, and despite promises from both the state government and the NDIA that he would finally get what he needed, his first NDIS plan left him worse off. VALID’s advocacy team assisted with organising a plan review, but again, the NDIS denied almost all the supports Jake required. So, Jake’s family asked for legal help from Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service and Legal Aid Victoria to have his case heard at the AAT.

WA: One-of-a-kind autism service offers new hope to families

Western Australian babies and children with autism and developmental delay will be able to access world-first therapies and interventions backed by the latest research, thanks to a unique clinical service developed by the Telethon Kids Institute.

CliniKids, the first clinic of its kind in Australia and the first stand-alone clinical service to be offered by Telethon Kids, was officially launched today by Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP.

Excluded and refused enrolment: report shows illegal practices against students with disabilities in Australian schools

Kathy Cologon, Macquarie University

More than 12% of students with disability are being refused school enrolment, and over 40% are being excluded from school events and activities.

These are some of the findings from a survey published today by the national organisation Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA). More than 500 young people with disability, and families of students with disability, shared their experiences with the education system over the past year.

The system of both mainstream and segregated schooling is often claimed to be a result of parent choice. But families in the survey said students were denied enrolment for reasons including schools advising they lack the necessary resources.

Education survey finds 12pc of children with a disability kept from class by school 'gate keeping'

Norman Hermant

Felix Tarlinton did not have a good experience at school.

"I'm not very good with big crowds," the nine-year old, who lives with autism, told the ABC.

"[My teacher] would send me to this small little corner that I absolutely hated."

Off a cliff, without a parachute: Parents left in the cold when it comes to kids with autism

First-line health professionals must vastly improve their communication and engagement with parents if they are to help address the growing prevalence of autism among children, say researchers from the University of South Australia.

Undertaking a meta-synthesis of 22 international studies, researchers consolidated the voices of 1178 parents advocating for their children with autism, finding that parents feel ignored and dismissed by medical practitioners as they navigate initial concerns for their child, further investigations, and finally, a formal diagnosis of autism.

Researchers say that medical practitioners need to adopt a family-focused approach to ensure that parents’ concerns, perspectives and observations are taken seriously so that their child has appropriate and timely access to early intervention services.

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