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We have changed our name! Kids on the Spectrum is now called Living on the Spectrum

Autism Spotters and Early intervention initiatives launched.

The Thrive by Five initiative, supported by the Minderoo Foundation, aims to promote the concept of “Early Autism Spotters.” This strategic approach could potentially address the issues of increased costs in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), while simultaneously enhancing support and outcomes for individuals identified as Autistic or facing learning delays.

At the heart of this approach lies the idea of providing comprehensive training for early educators. This training would enable them to accurately recognise children with Autism and effectively implement early interventions. Consequently, the initiative suggests that taking this proactive stance could lead to better academic results for students and potentially reduce the necessity for additional NDIS assistance.

Thrive by Five is an endeavor spearheaded by Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation. Additionally, it intends to emphasise to the NDIS Review that the early learning sector should assume a more substantial role in aiding children with disabilities.

Introduction of Pilot program.

This Recommendation is on the back of the Federal Government announcement of a new pilot program to support babies showing early signs of Autism in Western Australia. The Government outlining a pilot program to provide support for infants displaying early indications of Autism in Western Australia. The Telethon Kids Institute is welcoming the initiative.

The pilot program is an extension of the research undertaken by the Telethon Kids Institute, La Trobe University, and the West Australian Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS). Their collaborative effort yielded groundbreaking evidence. Supporting evidence that infancy-initiated therapy could substantially decrease the likelihood of early developmental disabilities such as Autism by two-thirds.

Bill Shorten MP, the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), unveiled this initiative at the National Press Club as part of the broader NDIS reforms.

Professor Whitehouse emphasised, “Inklings aims to provide evidence-based assistance to families with infants showing unique developmental patterns, equipping them with the necessary skills for optimal growth.” He added,

“The foundation of Inklings lies in the hypothesis that initiating support within the first two years of a child’s life, when initial signs of atypical development manifest and the brain is rapidly evolving, can lead to even more significant positive impacts on developmental outcomes during later childhood.”

He further underscored that this program represents a proactive measure. Importanly, intervening early to support infants rather than waiting for a formal Autism diagnosis to initiate therapy. Expressing enthusiasm about the collaboration with CAHS and WACHS, he deemed this a crucial initial step in what could evolve into a truly transformative program for families with infants experiencing unique developmental trajectories.

For more information about the Inklings program or to stay updated, please visit inklings.org.au.

Read More: Access to the NDIS for Individuals diagnosed with ADHD – Recommendations from the Senate inquiry on ADHD.

Challenges to NDIS Sustainability: Escalating Participants and Key Concerns

The Early Intervention approach leads two efforts addressing rising youth reliance on the $30B NDIS scheme. Currently, 10%+ boys aged 5-7 are NDIS-registered. Also, rapid participant growth underscores the need for innovative steps to ensure NDIS sustainability. The Telethon Kids Institute supports both with current research on Early intervention.

Current NDIS statistics

  • The NDIS encompasses a substantial number of children nationwide. 83,000 falling within the 0-6 age group and 140,000 aged between 7 and 14.
  • The scheme’s younger participants, specifically those aged 18 and under, account for a total of 266,000 individuals. Making them a significant demographic.
  • The majority of this younger demographic, constituting 54 percent, have autism as a primary diagnosis. While an additional 20 percent are dealing with developmental delays.
  • Notably, this category of participants is experiencing the most rapid growth within the program. It now exceeding a total of 585,000 individuals.
  • A significant portion, 35 percent, have Autism as their primary diagnosis.
  • The NDIA released data indicating that the NDIS is set to need a budget of $34 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23.
  • They have allocated $8.25 billion for individuals whose primary diagnosis is autism.
  • Experts expect a significant increase in the NDIS budget, projecting it to reach nearly $90 billion in the next decade.

Easing NDIS Pressure and Enhancing Outcome

A cornerstone of each initiative is the concept of Early Intervention. The strategies aiming to alleviate pressure on the NDIS while improving life outcomes via Early Interventions and supports.

Earlier this year, the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Bill Shorten, announced the government’s funding for a three-year initiative. Aimed at testing early intervention methods for children displaying early signs of Autism. .

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