Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

International Asperger’s Day

Today is International Asperger’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and show support for people with the condition, their families and carers.

This is the second year International Asperger’s Day has been recognised. February 18 is the anniversary of the birth of Dr Hans Asperger, the physician who defined the Syndrome and whose work has been recognised world wide.

Today, friends, family and carers of people with Asperger’s, support organisations and communities will unite to promote an understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s is a condition on the Autism Spectrum and is recognised as part of the Australian Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package.

The Helping Children with Autism package provides early intervention services to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder including speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioural treatment to help children’s development.

Since its introduction in October 2008, more than 12,000 children have accessed early intervention services through the Helping Children with Autism package.

Evidence shows that early intervention can make a difference to the quality of life for children with an autism spectrum disorder.

There are more than 600 children enrolled in more than 90 PlayConnect Playgroups, which provide an excellent opportunity for families to share and learn from each other, while giving children play-based learning opportunities.

Six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres have been established across Australia, providing early learning programs and specific support for children with ASD.

The Helping Children with Autism package also provides increased access to education and support for families and carers of children with ASD, and new Medicare items for diagnosis and early intervention treatment for children aged under 13 years.

The package recognises the importance of diagnosis and early intervention treatments and services for children with ASD.

Asperger’s, and other conditions on the Autism Spectrum, should be no barrier to leading a fulfilling, happy and productive life.

The Australian Government is committed to helping people with disability fulfil their potential.