Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

A review of early intervention therapies for children with Autism

The Australian Government has welcomed a report reviewing the most effective models of practice in early intervention therapies for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The report was produced by the Australian Autism Research Collaboration and will help the Government to ensure its Helping Children with Autism package is as effective as possible.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, said the report looked at the assessment processes used in the early intervention services component of the Helping Children with Autism package.

“This report has provided us with recommendations to further improve early intervention services and therapies for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Senator McLucas said.

“Academics and practitioners with extensive scientific, technical, and innovative expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders reviewed the latest evidence-based research and interventions.

“They also provided advice on how we could improve our processes.”

Recommendations include improved communication and information sharing among Helping Children with Autism allied health professionals but also with families in rural and remote communities and those from a non-English speaking background.

The report also recommends a continued strong emphasis on best practice standards by service providers as well as the consideration of tele-health measures to overcome geographical challenges.

“This report will help ensure that organisations who receive funding for early intervention services through the Helping Children with Autism package provide effective and scientifically proven services and therapies,” Senator McLucas said.

“By developing relevant and effective solutions for early intervention services and therapies, children with autism can have the best individual care and support tailored to their needs, improving their quality of life and making it easier for them to attend school, and participate in everyday activities.

“As we begin to lay the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, this report provides an evidence base around effective early interventions therapies and services.

“More than 16,000 Australian children aged up to seven years have accessed more than 500,000 early intervention services through the Government’s Helping Children with Autism package.

“Building on the success of the Helping Children with Autism package, the Australian Government established the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative from July 1 2011, which has seen more than 3,000 children registered.

Better Start gives children under the age of six who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and vision or hearing impairments including deaf-blindness, access of up to $12,000 in early intervention funding.

“The Australian Government is firmly committed to improving support and care for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities that affect a child’s development.”

Read more about the review.