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

Family Of Autistic Boy Forced To Leave Australia

28 Aug 2009This story is about a family with an Autistic son, Jonah; they have been forced to move to the UK to get the necessary assistance with education for their youngest child, which clearly isn’t on offer in Australia.

Jonah’s father, Kevin, has said that in the last three years, with lost wages and therapy bills, it’s cost them around $90,000 to care for his son’s development.

Last year, the Australian Federal Government passed a long awaited funding program for Autistic children under the age of six, who don’t attend full-time school.

This package means, families with Autistic children, will receive $6000 annually, for two years; this will help them pay for therapy to help their child develop as best as possible. Unfortunately, for Jonah, he is already six so he is over the maximum age.

They then decided to look at each child on a case by case basis, giving the family hope that Jonah could be given financial assistance, but then another setback, Jonah attends full-time school, that means he doesn’t fit the systems criteria.

Nicole Rogerson, the director of Lizard Children’s Centre, a private clinic for Autistic children, also has a son with Autism, and says that $6000 a year, would only cover the costs of two or three hours of therapy a week. She says that to benefit an Autistic child’s development, they need a minimum of twenty hours a week in early intervention.

Kevin says that he ultimately made the decision to pack up his life, and the lives of his wife and their three children, to get the best help for Jonah in the UK.

The Australian Education Department knows of children with Autism, but they don’t actually come and meet with them, or try to work out the best needs for the child. In the UK, within the first three months of moving there, someone will come and meet with Jonah and his parents and assess Jonah, devising an individual program that will best suit his needs to help him to maximize his opportunities.

This story was aired last night on the 7:30 Report on the ABC Network, to watch the video, click on this link - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/20/2661233.htm?section=australia

It’s a sad fact if people with Autistic children feel they have to leave their child’s birthplace just to get a proper start on their development.

Clearly, something needs to change in Australia to benefit families of Autistic children. It’s estimated, Autism affects over half a million Australian households, with those numbers, surely more can be done.

With today being the first of three days, of the Asia Pacific Autism Conference, which will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, hopefully issues like this one, will be raised to help make a brighter tomorrow for Autism sufferers and their families.


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