Dignity for Disability Rallies for Autism Education Plan

Dignity for Disability, Adelaide_Autism, the families, and educators of children with autism collectively call on the Premier-in-Waiting, Jay Weatherill, to boost funding for early autism intervention programs in mainstream and special schools.

These groups will be protesting on the steps of Parliament House today at 11.30am to draw the incoming Premier’s attention to their needs.

This area of education has traditionally been chronically underfunded. The Rann Government has done little for the ‘forgotten’ children with autism in South Australia.

“The years of Government neglect of children with autism is another example of the Government shifting the cost of public education onto parents,” said Daryl Barkhazen from Adelaide_Autism.

Today Dignity for Disability (d4d) is announcing a proposal to improve and streamline early intervention services for children with autism between the ages of 3 and 6-years-old.

Dignity for Disability is calling on the State Government to replicate a proven model called Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit (AEIOU – http://www.aeiou.org.au/). This initiative, currently operating in Queensland, works efficiently a cost of $44,000 per annum per child – which is paid jointly through a package of private fees, aeiou fundraising, Federal and State Government funding.

“Early intervention programs are absolutely essential to gain positive outcomes for children with autism. Quantitative evidence of their success is well documented internationally,” said d4d President Rick Neagle.

“Streamlining funds into a package delivered by a one-stop multidisciplinary centre is the most cost effective way to give children with autism access to best practice outcomes.”

Many parents are unaware that the Federal Government provides up to $25,700 funding per annum to the family of a child with autism. This funding can be redirected to education by pooling monies from the Child Care Benefit, Carers allowance, Helping Children with Autism Package, Child Care Rebate and Carers Supplement.

“We are asking the State Government to back up this federal contribution by funding specialised autism education units,” said d4d MLC Kelly Vincent. “This proposal will reduce the burden on families through the provision of a high-quality service which enables children with Autism to become an economic resource for our State.”