The article by Rick Morton (“Alarm at autism doctor shopping”, 19/1) provides evidence of the abuse of autism support schemes that Andrew Whitehouse says occurs only because parents seek the best for their child (“NDIS provides basis for streamlining autism diagnosis”, 19/1).
As I said in my letter (18/1), the explosion in diagnosis is because of an inappropriate change in diagnostic criteria. The parents of those children with behavioural problems, sometimes because of poor parenting, have the bonus of receiving extra income as well as being absolved of responsibility because of a disease label.
The support scheme was intended for those with true autism, not the fringe, questionable diagnoses of Aspergers and other autism spectrum disorders. We should not wait for the uncertain start date of the federal disability insurance scheme (which will itself encourage more rorts in other areas) to address a scheme that, with the best of intentions, has gone badly and expensively wrong. Each state should review the indications for diagnosis and financial support.
Graham Pinn, Maroochydore, Qld
Elizabeth Green (Letters, 18/1) says: “Until mainstream classes create the flexibility to cater for the many faces of autism, we will continue to fail this cohort.” Kate Legge (“On the edge”, 16/1) writes: “Many teachers supervise classes with three or four (autism spectrum disorder sufferers) in the mix, in addition to students who have other issues affecting their behaviour and ability to learn.”
Do we seriously expect teachers to have the expertise and time to successfully teach these troubled children while they cater for the more mainstream needs of others in the class? They are not supermen or superwomen. This is an impossible task.
And what if the special needs of one ASD child happens to contain just the trigger to set off another’s volcano? I wonder if the solution isn’t a reversion to special schools (or classes within schools) with special teachers for these special children? That might give the so-called normal children the chance to learn without disruption.
Graeme Osborne, Southern River, WA