The Federal Government has launched Australia’s first-ever national guideline to support children with autism. It was developed by a publicly funded autism research centre, and offered 84 recommendations to support children with autism up to 12. Health Minister Mark Butler said the principles in the guideline would be reflected in a national autism strategy now being developed by the Government.
Autism in Australia
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition diagnosed through developmental assessments and behavioural observations. According to a 2018 survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 205,000 people have been diagnosed with autism in Australia.
The guideline was led by a group that included adults with autism, and researchers and practitioners in the autism community. They recommended embracing a child with autism’s unique understanding of people and the world around them, and to not seek to “cure” a child’s autism. They also supported work that honours the “goals and activities of childhood”, such as play and personal discovery. Respecting diverse cultural perspectives in programs, as well as ensuring culturally safe programs for First Nations people, was also recommended.
A National Strategy
Work on a national autism strategy began this month. It will work to provide a “whole of-life” plan for all Australians with autism, and will use the new national guidelines to inform its own strategy. No legislation is needed for the guideline’s recommendations to be implemented.