Autism/ASD and the 2019 Federal Election

Hey!

Support for autistic Australians is an election issue.

Both A4 and the Australian Autism Alliance have produced material that aims to improve awareness of ASD-related issues ahead of the coming federal election.

A4 encourages autistic people, their families, carers and everyone who wants better outcomes for autistic Australians, to share these documents with candidates in the coming federal election.

You can make a difference. The easiest thing to do is write to political parties: send them (electronic) copies of the documents below and ask them to tell you what they are doing to address issues that are crucial for autistic Australians.

Latest test of promising autism therapy shows only mild benefits

child seated at a learning table

A much-touted behavioral therapy for autism, the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), may not be as effective as its creators had hoped1.

In the latest study of the therapy, it did not improve children’s intelligence quotients (IQ) or adaptive behavior any more than other treatments. Children treated with ESDM showed some improvement in their language, but only at two of the three study sites.

Independent experts say the results are disappointing, and they question some of the methods used to generate them.

Draft Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

DSS crest: Australian Government Department of Social Security

Have your say!

Finally, progress is being made towards a royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Australians with disability.

You can provide input to the terms of reference if you are quick (until 28/3/2019): see https://engage.dss.gov.au/royal-commission-into-violence-abuse-neglect-a...

NSW Education: Disability Strategy, A Living Document

The NSW Education department has released its latest "disability strategy" (download here).

In relation to autistic students, it says:

  • autistic students are 33% of "students supported by funded programs distributed by disability type 2017" in NSW (students with intellectual disability make up 40%).
  • "From 2013-17, enrolments of students with autism increased by ~14.5%10 per year" according to the Education Department's own data ... at this rate, the number of autistic students doubles every 5 years.
  • ...

What's Next for Autistic Adults?

John Elder Robison

We don't know, because most autistic adults are unrecognized and unsupported.

Reading the news, the prognosis for autistic adults looks like a very mixed bag. On one hand are hopeful stories about Project Search, Autism at Work, and Neurodiversity in school. Those accounts portray autistic people as loyal, kind, eager to work, and wanting to make a meaningful contribution. Employers talk about superior attention to detail and exceptional caring about quality and correctness.

Then there are the downsides. One study found that autistic people are nine times more likely to die of suicide. An autism website says 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. Autistics are far more vulnerable to diabetes, anxiety, obesity, depression and a host of other serious medical problems. Most autistic adults never get married, and if they do, it doesn’t last. 

Scott Morrison poised to order royal commission into abuse of people with a disability

Amy Greenbank

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to the states and territories asking for their support in establishing a joint inquiry into abuse in the disabled sector.

New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have confirmed they are behind the probe, but a formal announcement is not expected until Mr Morrison hears back from the other leaders.

Federal Cabinet discussed establishing a royal commission on Tuesday night.

Death rates in people on the autism spectrum twice those of the general population: new research

Isabelle Dubach

People on the autism spectrum have elevated mortality across the lifespan – their overall comparative mortality rate is about twice that of the general population, a new study reveals.

The comparative mortality of people with autism spectrum disorder is twice that of the general population, an Australian-first study by a UNSW PhD student and her supervisors has found. The researchers call for a whole of health and disability systems response to this issue to improve outcomes for this group.

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:

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