In Sydney right now
The founder of RDI, Dr Gutstein, is in Australia at the moment, running a conference. I wanted to be involved in a press conference yesterday talking about RDI, but was unable to get there. However, this article was published in today's Australian newspaper, quoting Dr Gutstein and calling for financial help for families with autistic children.
Call for more aid for autistic and their families
21 May 2007
LINDSAY Salmon's two favourite things are toy trains and composing music.
But like one in every 160 Australians, six-year-old Lindsay suffers from autism.
His parents, Jane and Jim Salmon, worry that his condition may deteriorate, because they can not afford treatment for the condition that impairs social and communication skills.
The Sydney family's situation mirrors that of many Australian families affected by autism who receive little or no government funding.
"It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor. No one gets the help they need," Mrs Salmon said. "Why aren't any of the treatment programs on Medicare? That would be a simple way for the Government to make life easier for us.
"My son is composing music at the moment, at six. I don't think he'd be doing that without early help. I don't want him going backwards.
"Treatment should be affordable for me. It's right here in front of me, I can almost touch it. But I just can't afford it."
Mrs Salmon said it was unfair to ignore the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). "These kids are innocents," she said. "Why not give these very innocent people a go? They have so much potential."
A report by Synergy Economic Consulting for the Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit reveals some families waited up to two years for diagnosis. It also found treatment and the economic impact of autism on the Australian community was up to $7billion each year.
Of that, $3.63 billion a year is due to unemployment of people with autism.
International autism expert Steve Gutstein, speaking in Sydney at a conference yesterday, said the Australian Government needed to provide more support for autism sufferers and their families.
"In some areas in Australia, there's a complete lack of federal support for autism," Dr Gutstein said. "In Australia, because you're starting from a basis of little, we're hoping you can do itright."
Dr Gutstein, who founded the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) autism treatment method, said the Government should focus on supporting families and on the long-term economic impact of autism.
"Firstly, you need to steer the resources to the parents. We need to educate and support the parents, to work with their children effectively. That is going to pay off in the long run," he said.
"Second, you need to realistically look at the long-term effects. We're dealing with a large population now, one out of 160 people have ASD.
"They're not mentally retarded, that's a myth. They could be employed. They could be having lives. Yet when we look at the studies of the most capable people with autism, the data shows that less than 15 per cent ever have a job. Less than 3 per cent ever live on their own.
"Your Government needs to think about the long term and about how to help families help their kids to be productive."