Media Release by The Hon Jane Prentice MP

New approach for autism

The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services has announced a new way to help those with autism access the services they need.

Mrs Prentice said collaboration between the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will help the autism community access more support.

This project builds on an earlier collaboration between the Autism CRC and NDIA to develop Australia’s first national diagnostic guideline for autism – a critical step to ensuring consistent and equitable access to autism diagnosis for children and adults.

As part of the collaboration, a world-first research study is underway to identify the most effective interventions for children on the autism spectrum based on individual characteristics.

This is the second project commissioned under the collaboration, which aims to ensure those on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

Mrs Prentice said the findings of the study would provide much needed information on which approaches may be more effective for different types of autism.

“The work of the NDIA and Autism CRC seeks to find innovative support for people on the autism spectrum with the aim of giving them great outcomes in life,” Mrs Prentice said.

Director of the Autism CRC Diagnosis Research Program, Professor Andrew Whitehouse, said the potential to identify different subtypes of autism would completely transform the way people on the spectrum access therapy.

“We know it’s important for children on the autism spectrum to access timely and targeted early intervention, however, there is considerable variability in how children respond,” Professor Whitehouse said.

“Results of this research will provide a unique and highly significant evidence base that will allow matching of interventions to the child’s profile, thereby maximising treatment outcomes.”

The project will be undertaken in the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in each state and is one of a number of initiatives under the Helping Children with Autism funding program to support families and their children on the spectrum.

“The collaboration with the NDIA allows for the extension of the project for the next two years, significantly bolstering this world-first initiative,” Mrs Prentice said.

Autism CRC is the world’s first national research effort focused on autism across the lifespan, working together with the autism community to provide the evidence base to support individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives. Autism CRC provides the national capacity to develop and deliver evidence-based outcomes through its unique collaboration with the autism community, research organisations, service providers and government.

A major study was launched in October 2016 to develop Australia’s first national diagnostic guideline for autism, commissioned under a collaboration between Autism CRC and the NDIA.