What Is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition, affecting around one in 100 people. It’s often characterised by difficulty in social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests. An estimated 164,000 Australians are on the autism spectrum, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
People on the autism spectrum may have:
- Social communication and social interaction issues
- Restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests
- Unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects
- Sensory sensitivities including avoiding everyday sounds and textures such as hair dryers and vacuum cleaners
- Intellectual impairment or learning difficulties.
Sourced with permission from Aspect Australia.
Effective Early Intervention
Early intervention programs are an important first step for children with autism and other developmental concerns. Early diagnosis followed by individualised early intervention can provide the best opportunities for achieving their potential.
Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
DSS has established a panel of early intervention service providers to deliver evidence based services to eligible children as part of the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package.
You can also contact them via the Early Intervention Helpdesk on:
Phone: 1800 778 581 (located in Perth)
Helpdesk opening hours: AWST (Perth time) from 9:00am -12:30pm and 1:30pm – 4:30pm
For other languages, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 and ask them to contact the Helpdesk for you.
First Steps For Autism
The First Steps For Autism Program offered by the Autism Association of Western Australia, is designed for children aged zero to eight years old.
Medicare items supporting early diagnosis and treatment of children with autism or any other pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) can be found here: Department of Health HCWA Medicare Items Fact Sheet
TOBY (Therapy Outcomes By You) Autism Therapy App
This unique, best practice early intervention iPad app allows parents with newly diagnosed children to start early intervention at home and really take control of their child’s development.
Designed for 2-4 year olds, TOBY contains over 330 Onscreen and Real World (off screen) activities, teaching 52 skills across 4 foundational learning areas.
TOBY 5-7’s has recently been made available to provide therapy for early primary school aged children.
TOBY is evidence-based and has recently been deemed effective after a 2-year clinical trial by Telethon Kids Institute, making it the world’s first app clinically proven to enhance developmental outcomes. For more information about TOBY visit their website, or you can download the apps from iTunes:
Assessment and Diagnosis
For information about Autism Spectrum Disorder assessment and diagnosis, please browse through the following organisations links:
- Raising Children – The Australian Parenting Website: Getting an ASD diagnosis in WA (children)
- Autism Association of WA – Seeking a Diagnosis and General Diagnosis Information (children)
- Western Australian Autism Diagnosis Forum (WAADF) – Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment Process in Western Australia (children, adolescents, adults)
- Autism Awareness Australia – Who Can Diagnose? (children adults)
Paediatricians, suitably experienced psychologists and speech pathologists in private practices can also provide diagnosis information and autism assessments.
Western Australian Autism Diagnostics Forum (WAADF) has a list of diagnosing health professionals.
*Seeking a diagnosis privately is often quicker but financially more expensive.
Adult Assessment and Diagnosis
For adults seeking an assessment and diagnosis, the best way forward is meet with a clinical psychologist and/or psychiatrist who has a deep understanding of autism and experience with the formal assessment and diagnosis process.
The Western Australian Autism Diagnosis Forum (WAADF) provides some more information about the assessment process for adults in Western Australia here – Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment Process in Western Australia.
Therapy and Other Psychological Services
The Raising Children Network Parent Guide to Therapies offers reliable information about a wide range of therapies and interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Psychological and Educational Consultancy Services (PECS) is a Perth-based psychology practice that has been conducting psychological and educational assessments for children, adolescents and adults for over 18 years. For more information:
Phone: (08) 9388 8044
Address: Suite 9/336 Churchill Ave, Subiaco, WA 6008
Intervention Services for Autism and Developmental Delay (ISADD) provides individual counselling for adolescents and adults. A behavioural, CBT approach is usually used. To contact ISADD:
Phone: (08) 9227 6888
Address: 50 Angove Street NORTH PERTH WA 6006
Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
The Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provides mental health programs to infants, children and young people up to the age of 17. This includes services in the community and in a hospital setting.
There are 10 Community CAMHS clinic locations across the Perth metropolitan area. These clinics provide assessment and treatment of mental health difficulties in infants, children and young people. The contact details of each clinic is listed below:
Armadale – (08) 9391 2455
Bentley – (08) 9334 3900
Clarkson – (08) 9304 6200
Fremantle – (08) 9435 9700
Hillarys – (08) 9403 1999
Peel – (08) 9531 8080
Rockingham – (08) 9528 0555
Shenton – (08) 9381 7055
Swan – (08) 9250 5777
Warwick – (08) 9448 5544
For urgent mental health issues, call the CAMHS Urgent mental health support line on1800 048 636 (24×7 in collaboration with the Mental Health Emergency Response Line).
Help for Carers
Carers WA has a professional and confidential telephone counselling service that can help carers discover effective ways of coping with the everyday challenges of caring. The service is used by carers throughout the state, secure in the knowledge that there is someone they can contact for support, who understands their needs and is able to guide them to appropriate services:
Carers Counselling Line
Phone: 1800 007 332 (Monday to Friday, 8am – 5pm) – Freecall
The Kids Helpline
The Kids helpline is a 24×7 free, private and confidential telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia. To find out more:
Phone: 1800 551 800
Lifeline WA provides all Western Australians experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Their service is a nationally-routed crisis support number, available every day of the year, from any location in Australia. It is available to anyone – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Contact Lifeline WA on:
Phone: 13 11 14 (24×7 Crisis Support)
Chat online here (7:00pm – 4.00am (Syd time) 7 days
beyondblue creates mentally healthy environments and supports people across Australia – whatever their age and wherever they live.
All calls to their support services are one-on-one with trained mental health professional, and completely confidentiality.
Beyondblue Support Service
Phone: 1300 22 4636 (24×7)
Chat online (3pm to 12am (AEST) every day
Autism Advisory and Services Support (AASS)
Phone: 1300 222 777 (24 Hour Autism Hotline)
Ngala Parenting Line – for families of children aged 0-18
Phone: (08) 9368 9368 (7 days a week – 8am to 8pm) or 1800 111 546 (Country Access – 7 days a week – 8am to 8pm) *Call-back service – they will call you back as soon as possible)
Below is also a list of organisations that offer Respite Care Services throughout WA:
Lady Lawley Cottage
Address: 8 Gibney St, Cottesloe WA 6011
Phone: (08) 9318 2160
Address: 44 Haub Rd, Lake Clifton WA 6215
Phone: (08) 9316 3230
Address: 15 Porter St, Beaconsfield WA 6162
Phone: (08) 9387 0555
The Disability Services Commission (DSC) also have a Respite search option online.
Financial Assistance & Funding
Do you need assistance with financial support? Contact us to find out about what options are available to you and your family, and to ensure you’re accessing all or the funding available.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing support to Australians with disability, their families and carers.
NDIS provides you with more choice and control, giving you the ability to choose the supports you need, as well as how, when, where and who provides that support. Funding levels are tailored to the supports you need to achieve your life goals.
Autism West are happy to announce that we have been approved to become a registered NDIS provider as of 1 December 2017. This is a great opportunity opening up increased accessibility to our services via diverse funding options. To be kept up to date with our progress, email us at email@example.com.
Families who do not live in WA NDIS areas are still able to access funding for support services. DSC Local Coordinators (LCs) are available to help people with disability, living outside WA NDIS areas to access individualised funding for supports.
Disability Services Commission (DSC)
Address: 146–160 Colin Street, West Perth, WA 6005
Phone: (08) 9426 9352
Early Intervention Funding – 0-7 years
The Australian Government provides early intervention funding via programs:
- Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
- Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start)
Under these programs, children under 6 years of age with an eligible diagnosis can access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (a maximum of $6,000 per financial year). Funding is for services and therapies from a panel of registered service providers. Up to 35% of this funding ($4,200, or $2,100 per financial year) can be used to buy resources recommended for your child by a registered service provider. This includes visual aids, communication boards, sound field systems or other equipment.
Funding must be spent by the child’s seventh birthday. If your child is over 7, visit ‘Children over 7 years of age’ for information about other services you may be able to access.
Information sourced from the Department of Social Services website.
HCWA and Better Start Medicare Items – 0-15 years
Children under the age of 13 can access HCWA and Better Start Medicare items available for assessment, diagnosis and the creation of a treatment and management plan. Once a treatment and management plan is in place, items are available for sessions with a range of allied health professionals including psychologists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists.
- Up to 4 diagnostic / assessment services to assist the referring practitioner with diagnosis or to contribute to a child’s treatment and management plan (for a child under 13 years of age).
- Up to 20 treatment sessions (for a child under 15, providing they have a treatment and management plan in place by thirteen).
You do’ot need to be registered with HCWA or Better Start to use these Medicare items.
More info, including specific Medicare item numbers, can be found via the links below:
- Medicare items – Helping Children with Autism
- Medicare items – Better Start for Children with Disability
You can find a list of approved service providers here.
As the NDIS is rolled out across Australia, children supported through HCWA will transition to the NDIS.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) provides payments and services to help you if you have a disability and it means you can’t work, or can only do a limited amount of work.
DHS – Disability Allowance
Phone: 132 717
Community Living & Participation Grants
Community Living and Participation Grants provide up to $10,000 for customised solutions that support people with disability to participate in family and community life. People with disability can apply for equipment, resources, activities and projects connected to their particular social and recreational goals.
Phone: (08) 9242 5544
The Autism Extension Program (AEP)
The Autism Extension Program (AEP) is supported by Autism Education Services and is one of 4 programs in WA set up and supported by the Department of Education’s Centre for Inclusive Schooling.
The AEP’s are based at Ashdale Secondary College, Canning Vale College, Ocean Reef High School and South Fremantle Senior High School.
Additional Schooling Options
For additional schooling options there is an Australian Schools Directory search which lists all Government and Private schools in Australia so that parents can easily find the type of school they want in any location in Australia.
Here are some other useful resources:
Home Based Learners Network WA is a volunteer, non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting all Western Australian home based learners.
Home School WA are a support service to families that wish to home-school in Western Australia. They offer K-12 Christian Curriculum (ACE), phone support, diagnostic testing and distance education.
Western Australian Natural Learning Network is a free community providing support and information for the unschooling/natural learning subset of Western Australian homeschoolers (and anyone else interested).
Specialisterne Australia is an organisation helping employers understand, value, and integrate the unique perspective and capabilities of people on the autism spectrum.
Disability Employment Australia
Disability Employment Australia undertakes a range of functions designed to support our members to achieve best practice service provision in their role to find employment outcomes for people with disability.
There are a wealth of online stores and local shops where you can purchase toys for kids with autism. Here are a few:
My Diffability – http://www.mydiffability.com.au/
The Therapy Store – http://www.thetherapystore.com.au/
Sensory Oasis for Kids – http://www.sensoryoasisforkids.com.au/
Skill Builders – http://www.skillbuilders.com.au/
Books about autism can be loaned from the following places:
Noahs Ark Library
Address: Noah’s Ark, 5a Bookham Street, Morley WA 6062
Phone: (08) 9328 1598
Address: 327 Cambridge St, Wembley WA 6014
Phone: (08) 9387 0458
The Companion Card is for people with a significant and permanent disability, who require attendant care support in order to participate at community venues and activities are always going to need a high level of care to get to community based activities. Cardholders present their card when booking or purchasing a ticket from a participating business. Participating businesses will recognise the Companion Card and issue the cardholder with a second ticket for their companion at no charge.
The Independent Living Centre WA provide assistive technology and equipment as well as a range of other services to help enable Western Australians of all ages and abilities to live more independent and fulfilling lives.
TADWA (Technology Assisting Disability WA) – is a not for profit organisation established to deliver solutions for independence and safety for people with disabilities, older people and carers:
The following are recommended hairdressers for children with autism:
Address: 148 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn WA 6016
Phone: (08) 6444 4182
Address: Shop 2/30 – 32 Ardross Street, 6153 Applecross
Phone: (08) 9315 1611
Address: 64 Walter Road, Bedford, WA, 6052
Phone: (08) 9271 1176
Research is important in developing and improving our understanding and approach to autism. Here are links to current research projects.
- Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC)
- Curtin Autism Research
- Telethon Kids Institute
- Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics (PRADA)
Note: Autism West does not undertake research, however we like to be as involved as we can and collaborate with others when they need it. Many of these projects are looking for people like you to help them and take part in their research.