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First Published Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

Urgent Action Required


Efforts are underway to establish an enquiry into issues relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia.  If you support improved funding, employment assistance, supports and services for Australians affected by these issues, please email Jenny Macklin today at JMacklin.MP@aph.gov.au


Tomorrow,  Wednesday, May 27, Jenny Macklin MP  will be considering the many voices of Australians who seek an overhaul of current services and supports for those on the autism spectrum and their families.   It’s not too late to make a statement.


Examples of Messages Sent:


The following was written by an Australian advocate who has long been the driving force behind this enquiry.


Members,


I am writing to you to strongly recommend an enquiry into the issues relating to all aspects of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. This takes in not only Autism but also other like conditions including ADD, ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).


There are a number of reasons why I believe this should be done. Firstly, the financial requirements associated with these conditions is over and above what is presently available, and are being underestimated to a degree by the states. This varies from state to state, with Victoria for example only assisting with ASD’s that have an intellectual incapacity (usually applicable to Low Functioning Autism only). This is despite their efforts with the Autism State Plan. The Disability Support Pension has no hope of keeping up with these needs.


Secondly, issues with employment (the usual way one would supplement income or fund the needs of the condition). This relates to the changes over the last decade to the work place that has in effect pushed those on the Spectrum out. My own experience would be of interest to the committee and I am certain I am not the only one.


Thirdly, the issue of information about the condition – especially over the Internet. There is a growing feeling in the United States that the Spectrum is not genetic in origin and can be “cured”. This is causing problems for many parents who believe this false information and I believe Australia is in a position to take a lead and deflect this nonsensical view as strongly as we can. Speaking for myself I feel very threatened by this growing attitude, and my ability to act is restricted.


Such are the variations on the Spectrum even within conditions like Aspergers it is a complicated situation to resolve. We have adults like myself, and children with parents who needs support, correct information and understanding. With the Americans calling us “brain damaged” and refusing to accept the concept of “neurodiversity” (recognition of the different way our brains work) the hating on the condition is threatening to envelope the whole issue and prevent real assistance to people like myself.


It should also be noted that the haters may cause vaccines to be targetted as a cause of the Spectrum, which would threaten the vaccination process – something I would assume the committee would be keen to prevent in a bipartisan manner.


I have been trying to get this enquiry off the ground since October 2002, and it has been too long.


Dear Ms Macklin,


I am writing to you in order to support the request by fellow Australians of an enquiry into issues relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is hoped that an enquiry will be established by the Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth in the House of Representatives, Canberra. As the mother of three children on the autism spectrum, two of whom are now adults, I fully support and encourage a thorough review of current services and supports for families including all who find themselves on the Autism Spectrum, inclusive of the following conditions – ADD, ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome and PDD-NOS.


Those on the spectrum have a great deal to offer society, but often find themselves underemployed, if employed at all. There are some wonderful employment models(eg, “Prospects” in the UK) that are proven to assist individuals toward sustained employment, reducing the financial burden overall and benefiting society enormously. Additionally, parents are all too often struggling with the financial requirements that go hand in hand with raising a child with additional needs and increased assistance would make a huge difference in their lives.



Parents are often fed harmful information in regard ‘cures’ and ’causes’ of their child’s condition rather than being informed of the facts. The vaccine myth has clearly been dispelled as a cause of autism by the medical profession, and yet many parents are continuing to place others at risk by way of refusing the immunisation programme for their child. The National Autistic Society in the UK clearly recognizes that autism cannot be cured. They collectively support and embrace autism as a different way of being which in turn promotes a more positive outlook for all concerned. They are working with it, rather than against it and parents and those on the spectrum are benefiting enormously from this particular stance. My adult children are examples of how positive representation can and does work, here in the UK. They are extraordinarily hard-working contributors to society. My son is working full-time after obtaining an Honours Degree in Music, while my daughter is studying toward becoming a clinical psychologist. Like many on the autism spectrum, they are high achievers who once given a chance, have proven themselves very capable.  Many Australians on the Autism Spectrum are not being granted the same supports and opportunities sadly.  An enquiry with an enthusiastic team at the helm, could make an enormous difference to a great many lives.



In closing, dispelling myths, increasing positive awareness, establishing supportive employment programmes and increasing funding where it’s so desperately needed in areas of assisting parents and those on the spectrum, benefits Australian society both in the long and the short term. Australia has always been a nation that cares. An enquiry that creates much needed change, boosts morale, increases employment and productivity, ensures parents will receive the support they require, would be heralded by the disability sector and the nation as a whole. A great many Australian families and adults on the autism spectrum wish to meaningfully contribute to society but require support and government investment in order to do so.



I urge you to please consider this enquiry as a matter of importance.  Thankyou for your time.


Previously, the Committee Chair deferred any decision on the subject of their next enquiry, stating that they will not act without a direction from the Minister – Jenny Macklin.



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