Page 823 - Week 02 - Thursday, 12 February 2009

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As part of the implementation of the Commonwealth Autism initiatives the ACT provided information on current services and levels of demand.

(Question No 10)

Ms Bresnan asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 10 December 2008 (redirected to the Minister for Community Services):

(1) How many ACT Government services are there at present for children under five with autism/aspergers.

(2) What programs are there for school aged children.

(3) What is the ACT Government doing to identify the needs of autistic adults.

(4) What training is made available to parents of autistic children to ensure that they are able to support their children appropriately.

(5) What coordination is there between the Federal and ACT health services on the issue.

Ms Gallagher: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) There are seven key services provided by the ACT Government for children under five with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and those with suspected diagnoses. These services are:

− Access to Child Health Medical Officers and Community Paediatricians at ACT Health who can examine the child’s development, refer for assessment services and, on the basis of assessments, make a diagnosis of ASD;

− Therapy ACT provides a comprehensive multi disciplinary assessment service to assist paediatricians in the diagnostic process through its Autism Assessment and Family Support Service;

− This team also provides a six week Family Support program for those families with a child (of any age) diagnosed with ASD;

− Therapy ACT Early Childhood Teams provide intervention services to children with a diagnosis of ASD, and to those with signs of autism who have not yet been diagnosed. The service delivery model utilised will depend on the needs of the individual child and could include, one or more individual therapy, group therapy (both with a parent education focus), a program within the education setting (including collaboration with the teacher), and home visits using the Early Play Program;

− The Department of Education provides early intervention playgroups for children aged two to three years with significant needs in communication and social development. Children are able to attend two sessions per week in a small group of up to six children with a teacher and two Learning Support Assistants;

− For children aged three to five years with a diagnosis of ASD, the Department of Education provides two, four-hour sessions per week at an Autism Intervention Unit (AIU). There are four children per group, staffed by a teacher and Learning

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