Liz Is Looking To Change How Australians Treat Autism

Editor’s Note: One of my favourite quotes of all time is one by Mark Twain, who said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Of course it’s not easy not to be on the side of the majority. People vilify you for it. But if you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten.

Liz wants to change that when it comes to how we treat autism here in Australia. Here’s her story.

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During the first 12 months of formal schooling, my brother attended only 2 weeks full-time. For the first few months all he (and his teachers) could manage was 2 hours a day. He had been diagnosed 2 years prior with autism, but never (formally) treated. He is one of 4 million people in Australia diagnosed with a disability.

I was fighting battles on the same front hundreds of kilometres away in the city. Working in childcare, I had 2 students in a class of 40 on the spectrum. It was through them that I became familiar with the method of Applied Behaviour Analysis and began working as a behavioural therapist.

Unlike England and the US , Australia is behind in adequately funding this method, though it is the most effective, evidence based treatment known to date; as a result entry-level positions are unsupported and menially paid.

For the last 3 years I have been working full-time as an independent contractor, not just learning industry skills, but actively networking within and between different clinics for sources of employment and seeking the instruction of experienced international supervisors to influence my practice. For 6 months last year I worked an unpaid internship at a clinic running social skills classes alongside my supervisors for severely autistic children and adolescents.

This year I am studying full-time to finish my BA (Psychology).

My thinking is that given the effectiveness of the treatment and the history of development in other countries, ABA is a methodology set to boom in Australia over the next 10 years. I want to think laterally about how families can implement 30 hours a week of therapy for under 5yr olds through ABA specific daycare centres, petition for better funding and exposure, particularly for rural families and training for teaching staff.

The scholarship would give me the opportunity to  access training materials from abroad, where research and practice is better established.

We can hustle to get these kids what they need.

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