Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3098 ..
MS BURCH: Yes, not quite fast enough, though—so they can too provide support to their families. The intervention support provided to families is across multiple clinicians: speech pathologists, OTs, physios—a range of providers that go to help the individual child, help the families, help the teachers in special units. The department of education also provides a response. We are piloting therapy assistance in a special school so we can learn from what benefits, and better model what we can do to support children across a range of disabilities and therapy support needs.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary?
MR DOSZPOT: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, those disingenuous words were really yours, not mine. I will not take credit for that.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, the question, thank you.
MR DOSZPOT: Minister, are children with autism really in the education system from the time of their diagnosis, which could be as young as 18 months?
MS BURCH: If they are diagnosed at 18 months clearly they would not be in the education system, but they would be within the support structures of Therapy ACT. Once they enter the education system there will be a partnership with DET and Therapy Act about how better to respond to those children’s needs.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Coe?
MR COE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does the minister believe teachers can also deliver intensive autism-specific early intervention while they teach an entire group of young children?
MR SPEAKER: Ms Burch.
Mr Coe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. All these questions are directed to Ms Burch, so it would be nice if she answered it, rather than getting pointers from Andrew Barr beforehand.
MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order, Mr Coe.
MS BURCH: We seem to be concentrating on a model of care that provides 20 hours of intense intervention and I think it is the ABA model. There is no jurisdiction—as I understand, no state or territory funds that model of care. I know it is a model of care that is a particular interest of a particular stakeholder, but no state or territory funds that model of care.
Through Therapy ACT, through private clinicians and practitioners in town, through DET, through ACT programs, through commonwealth programs, there are a range of services and support structures for young children and people with autism across Canberra. I think that is a good thing. Could we change it? Could our models change? Possibly. That is why we are looking at a model of therapy assistants in one of our special schools, so we can better learn how we can better respond to their needs.