Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Autistic individuals are being left behind

20 Apr 2012NOVA Employment held an Autism Forum this week in Sydney’s West, hosted by Professor Carol Schall, Director of Training and Technical Assistance and the Autism Center of Excellence, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be a part of the night, as I was out of state, but, from what I’ve heard, it was a fantastic night, which was enjoyed by many.

With Carol’s qualifications, and over 30 years of experience in the disability field, she does a fantastic job of sharing her knowledge of how to nurture and support individuals with Autism, through school, and into adult life. She also teaches how to implement and maintain positive behavioural systems.

Currently, in Australia, to receive intervention assistance for an Autistic individual, they must have been diagnosed before the age of six. If this happens, then a total of $6000 over a period of two years, will be given for each individual who is affected by Autism. During this two year period, they will receive speech therapy and other treatments, to help improve their quality of life.

If an individual isn’t properly diagnosed, or is diagnosed too late, then too bad. There is no other form of assistance available, unless it comes out of a families own pocket. And from research I’ve done today, it seems to cost at least $50,000 a year, per individual.

Channel 9’s A Current Affair program recently ran their own Autism forum, where they invited mothers, fathers, siblings and other carers of children and young adults with Autism into their studio, to discuss their fears and concerns for their children’s futures.

Most of the concerns were the same… That there simply wasn’t enough free, or subsidised support available, to maximise their children’s potential. Some parents have had to shift their entire families to different suburbs or states, in search of better care and support. Some have done so much to fund their children’s intervention programs, that their marriages have failed, and properties have had to be sold, in order to cover the costs.

It’s really sad to see the daily struggle that not only this group of families, but many families in the same position have to endure, purely because there are not enough resources available to them, and if there are, they come at a high price, which many can’t afford.

The producers of A Current Affair had invited Jenny Macklin, Minister for Disability Reform, to join the families, during the forum, which she declined. However, in her absence, she left them with a recorded video message, acknowledging the need for more support, and a promise of an improvement with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is due to come in by 2014.

Parents disagreed with her promises, saying that there are children, who are in need of help now, who are going to slip through the gaps, and may be left behind in their adult life, if the assistance comes too late. Adults with a severe Autistic Spectrum disorder, who need full time care, can cost the government up to $1million per year, according to one of the parents in the forum. So why isn’t there more help available now?! The more children who receive help, while they can benefit from it the most, the less adults there will be, requiring full-time care in the future. It sounds simple to try and fix, but it still seems like too difficult a concept for the government to grasp.

If you missed the forum on A Current Affair, you can watch it here: http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8437692

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