Autism is a lifelong neurological disorder characterised by impairments in communication, socialisation, and restricted patterns of interests and behaviours.
Autism affects at least 1:160 Australian children. This equates to a newly diagnosed child every working hour and more that 30,000 families directly touched by autism.
Autism impacts on the child (the major cause of learning difficulty), the child’s family (limited vocational and social opportunities, very high rates of parental depression and marital separation, social disadvantage for siblings) and the community (the cost of autism to the Australian community has been estimated at $7 billion per annum).
While there is no cure for autism Early Intervention programs targeting the crucial early learning years can dramatically improve the performance of these children, setting them on the path to mainstream education and eventual independence.
To be most effective these programs need to follow the evidence based Best Practice Guidelines published by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in 2007.
Whilst expensive to deliver studies suggest that the life time savings achieved by 2 years of 1000 hours of best Practice Early Intervention exceeds $1 million per child. The value to the child and their family cannot be estimated.