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MEDIA RELEASE 19 JUNE 2008

COME CLEAN ON SERVICES FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN MR.BARTLETT!!

The Premier and Education Minister, Mr Bartlett,  when asked a question on the services his government provides for autistic children, always avoids the question, instead referring to the money his Government provides for all children with special needs The latest example of this was his recent response to a question in the House from Mrs Napier regarding the failure of the Department of Education to allow an autistic child to enrol at Cambridge Primary School

Mr Bartlett is using the broad scope of all children with disabilities to cover up his government's total neglect of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The only honest approach to this would be to show the actual services provided for Autistic children, and how his Government has improved these services.

Let us look at what is provided for these children.

1. EARLY LEARNING SERVICES
The maximum provided is 3 hours per week. One hour of this is one on one assistance, one hour is group play, and one hour of parent support is provided per week. In the USA similar programmes were tested by researchers at the University of California. This research found that even with a total of 15 hours, children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders regressed in these types of programmes.

2. SERVICES PROVIDED AT SCHOOL AGE
(a) The Education Department has three Autism Consultants. They do not however work directly with children with ASDs. Their only role is to advise classroom teachers and school administrators on working with children with ASDs. None of these consultants is qualified to test children and draw up programmes for children with ASDs.

(b) The only other way in which the Department gives help to Autistic children is through the provision of aides. When inclusion commenced for intellectually disabled, the criteria for the provision of an aide was an IQ level of less than 70. Some years ago the Government changed this criteria to an IQ of less than 50. This year's budget provides to return the criteria to a level of less than 70. This will give extra aide hours to some autistic children.

While this will improve the safety of these children, it has to be realised that aides are provided to the class as a whole, not to the child. Even with the return to a criteria of an IQ below 70, high functioning autistic children and those with Asperger's Syndrome will not qualify. The aides themselves are not expected to work in special programmes for children with ASDs, so their role is not educational but more a child-minding exercise.

The budget provides an extra $3.4 million per annum for these extra promises. However, the budget states that the cost of an additional two weeks employment and salary increases for teacher aides with be $3.7 million. Unless the Government's commitment is extra to these wage increases, it is doubtful that this will provided any extra services at all.

So we can see that by quoting large sums in the $millions spent on Special Education as a whole, Mr Bartlett is covering the fact that services for autistic children are planned to return in the next financial year to the inadequate levels of 10 years ago. A proper analysis shows that the special needs of children with intellectual disabilities are completely ignored by this Government. Mr Bartlett tries to hide this by only talking of all disabilities and quoting huge sums that hide the lack of services that he will not address.

All taxpayers should be outraged by this lack of support for children with ASDs for it costs them dearly. Take the recent case of Kadin Gordon, the child not allowed to enrol at Cambridge school this week.

If help is not provided for this child and his mother, it is only a matter of months before this child is in state care. When this happens, he will require 24 hour care seven days a week until he is 16. On top of the cost of this intensive care, the State will be required to meet all his additional living costs. The cost of an ABA programme in his home would be far less than the 8 years of care that he will require.

And these costs will only intensify as he gets older. If he goes into a group home at the age of 20, and stays there until he is 80, the cost of this care at $100 000 per annum totals $6 million. Tasmanian taxpayers are paying dearly for the neglect of these children.

The battle between the various government authorities, Disability Services, Child and Family Services and Education, to prevent the costs of the services this children need being added to their separate budgets, and therefore to force these costs onto the other two services, ruins the chances of these children reaching their full potential, and it costs the taxpayer dearly!

We now have a Premier and a Deputy Premier who together have whole State responsibility, as well as the areas of Education and Health for these children. They are ideally placed to stop the refusal of all services to take responsibility for this area of extreme need. They must force a decision on services and lay down which individual Department

ATAC welcomes Sue Napier's call for ABA services to be provided for all autistic children whose parents want them. We indicate that we are ready to work with Mr Bartlett and M/s Giddings to bring in new systems for dealing with people with ASDs.

ROGER LAW, SECRETARY ATAC

 

ROGER CAN BE CONTACTED ON 03 6286 1316
or mob. 0400271500

 

Email address:mail@atac.asn.au
atactas@google.com

 

A.T.A.C's web site: http://www.atac.asn.au/
OR
http://www.melbarant.com/atac/

 

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