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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 5 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 1387..


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Health—autism

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (10.02): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) April is Autism Awareness Month and 2 April was World Autism Awareness Day;

(b) that the Canberra Liberals' 2012 election policy for an autism specific school had widespread community and corporate sector support; and

(c) currently, only nine hours of therapy support per week is provided directly through the Autism Intervention Unit when experts recommend a minimum of 20 hours; and

(2) calls on the Government to:

(a) develop more effective autism specific diagnostic and support services;

(b) provide more support for non-government organisations that deliver guidance and support for families dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosed children; and

(c) provide more targeted education support through the establishment of a school specifically for children diagnosed with ASD, in line with the Canberra Liberals' 2012 election policy.

I believe it is important in this Autism Awareness Month that this particular vexing developmental disability is highlighted by the Legislative Assembly. Autism, or more correctly autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is a unique developmental disability, and sadly it is not rare. In recent years there has been a rising awareness of ASD, with many more children being diagnosed at an early age. Only six years ago the first major Australian study on the prevalence of ASD reported that one in every 160 children aged between six and 12 years has an ASD. Today that figure is closer to one in 100.

In Canberra, Autism Asperger ACT, the not-for-profit association that provides support for families dealing with ASD, has over 1,000 members, the majority of whom are people with ASD and members of their families or carers. While many developmental disorders are not well understood by the general community, ASD probably is at the top of the misunderstood list, because there is no one common descriptor of a person with ASD.


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