Page 3286 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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support, no support for therapy or for children or community services, other than this quite singular support.

As I have said in this place, on its merits it works for some children, but it is not a universal program for all children with autism. That is what I think that many on your side of the chamber seem to forget, Ms Lawder. I ask you to read through that document on broad support for early intervention. I will make sure that I put through to your office.

During Autism Awareness Month, I outlined the government’s ongoing commitment to assist families to access the services they need and the significant changes to services that will be available under DisabilityCare. As members of the Assembly are aware, autism is a lifelong disorder that affects as many as one in 100 people across our community. Every child with autism is unique, as Ms Lawder has rightly identified.

Support required for individuals is different depending on different circumstances and responses. It depends on the person’s capabilities and on the family’s capacities and aspirations. For example, a child with autism may require substantial assistance with communication and behaviour while another is more affected by sensory issues and educational concerns. So no single early intervention program will assist every child with autism.

The government understands that early intervention for children with autism is the most effective way to support children and to provide those better outcomes. Research indicates that there are benefits from early intensive family-based therapy programs so long as they are adapted to the child’s capabilities and take into account the family circumstances.

Factors in early intervention programs that are backed by rigorous research evidence include individualised supports and programs, highly structured and supportive environments, supported transitions between settings, a functional approach to behaviour management and family involvement. Consistent with these factors, the ACT government has invested in a full range of diagnostic, intervention, education and family support services for children affected by autism. Families seeking support for children with autism largely do so by connecting to either Therapy ACT or the health and education directorates.

The services available through these government agencies provide families with the knowledge, skills, and support for the needs of their children to optimise their child’s development and to increase their ability to participate in family and community life. There are a range of early intervention services that are available to families. At Therapy ACT, professional staff provide services to approximately 240 children with autism, from diagnosis to the age of eight years across speech pathology, psychology, occupational therapy and social work services.

Intensive support is provided through this team, recognising the need for intervention early in the life of the child, and also early in the identification of difficulties that the family may be facing. Social workers meet with families, providing support,

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