The worrying focus on ‘Early intervention’

We do not want anybody to change us or our children. We want a ‘world first autism ministry’ to positively change the world for us in meaningful ways.
We remain hopeful that our state elected government does aim to create positive and lasting change to the lived experiences of Autistic people in South Australia. We hope they are actively deepening their knowledge on the lived experiences of Autistic people and how they can create policy changes to support us.
Labor’s focus on Early Intervention:

This ministry, thus far, seems focused only on early intervention. For many of us, this is terrifying. This highlights that very little consultation has occurred with the Actually Autistic community. We align with Reframing Autism’s statement on early intervention, accessible here.

Below we have noted some additional points of concern regarding the released Autism policy along with further considerations we would like to Labor government to address:

  • $17.15 million is being invested to appoint ‘Autism Lead Teachers’ in every school. We would like Labor to provide some transparency around how this will be rolled out. For example, what will the selection process be? Will these teachers be screened prior to selection to ensure they are not ableist and are LGBTIQA+ friendly? What actual training will they be provided with? Will Actually Autistic people be consulted when designing this process?
  • Autism-qualified staff will be appointed, but what does that actually mean? How are they qualified? What additional training will they be provided with? Who will be conducting that training? Will Actually Autistic people be involved?
  • Nothing specifically was noted in the document about the diagnostic process- will this challenging and confronting process receive any additional furning or government support?
  • High school is a very challenging time for Autitsic people- will Labor be providing any support to Autistic teens?
  • What will Labor be doing for Actually Autistic adults to support the challenging they face accessing safe mental health supports? Or any supports for that matter!
  • How will Labor be addressing the systemic workplace ableism we face and oppression we experience in an employment setting?
  • An educational resource is being supplied to schools. We would like to see some transparency around this resource. This resource will directly affect how our children are educated. Who developed it? Why is it not publicly accessible? Did Actually Autistic people contribute to its development?

We do not want Labor, as our government to ‘intervene with us or our children. We want policy that  intervenes in our world. That makes it kinder and safer for us. We want policy to make space for our differences. We want our children to grow up nurtured around neurodivergent affirming people.

This Labor government has the opportunity to not just be a world first, but to be world leading. This can be achieved by collaborating with parents of Autistic children AND Actually Autistic people.

Labors plan for students with Autism:

Thus far Labor has released a ‘Plan for students with Autism’ and intends to invest a significant amount of funding for this plan (more than 67 million).

Many parents of Autistic children are Autistic ourselves, and yet, it is very evident when reading through this plan that very little consultation has occurred with Actually Autistic parents or any Actually Autistic people.

The document, attached below, constitutes a nicely designed puff piece announcing the investments the Labor government is making inwithout meaningful consultation with Actually Autistic people.

The opening forward states: ‘Having a child diagnosed with autism can be a confronting experience.’ Actually, it is not a confronting experience, not even a little bit.

Do you know what we find confronting, distressing and deeply hurtful?

  • That our normative society is so resistant to any form of difference that having a child who is Autistic or Disabled could be considered ‘confronting’.
  • We found the process of accessing a diagnosis and going through the diagnostic process ‘confronting’.
  • We have found trying to access safe and helpful service providers challenging and confronting.
  • We have found ‘special needs’ educators in local high schools to be ableist and confronting.
  • We have found trying to access mental health support as Autistic adults to be confronting.
  • We have found systemic workplace ableism to be confronting and traumatic.

Having a child diagnosed with Autism is not confronting, having a world first government policy released that is dedicated to Autism beginning from this negative point of departure is confronting.

This plan document was incredibly hard to access. We have attached it for your reference below.

Actually Autistic?

We have been given the opportunity to formally submit our survey insights and findings to the assistant Minister for Autism, Emily Bourke. We will be submitting our findings near the end of October 2022. We hope the findings help guide this ministry.

We are inviting Actually Autistic people, anywhere in Australia, to contribute to the surveys on this website.

Thus far, there has been limited consultation with Actually Autistic people regarding this ministry. We are attempting to address this by creating our own survey and submitting our findings to the ministry. They have said they will consider what we share. We hope Actually Autistic voices will be used to shape this ministry.

Each survey is anonymous and should take approximately five minutes, depending on how much detail you choose to include.

Our key survey relates directly to the ministry, if you only have the spoons to complete one please complete this one!

The below three survey each have a specific focus. They are focusing on areas we feel there is a localised knowledge gap. We hope the insights gathered from these enrich our key survey findings: