In the first part of this series of posts “New Helping Children with Autism Package” I talked about eligibility for the package being dependent on a diagnosis of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and what is classified as a PDD. (PDD this is the more official name and you will find the more widely used term term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD) used on most of the service provider websites.)
Diagnosis is the first step in accessing the services provided by the package, followed by the creation of a treatment and management plan. New Medicare provisions have been created to cover diagnosis, the development of a treatment and management plan and recommended therapies:
There are two components to the Medicare funded services. Here is a brief run down::
Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
- For children under 13, Medicare will give rebates for the assessment, diagnosis and the development of a treatment and management plan for PDD conducted by either a psychiatrist or a paediatrician. Included in this are provisions for consultations with 3 types of allied health professional: Speech Pathologists, Psychologists and Occupational Therapists. Rebates include up to four services by these allied health professional when assisting the psychiatrist or paediatrician with assessment and diagnosis. A GP’s referral is needed for the psychiatrist or paediatrician.
- There are also provisions for rebates for children under 13 who have already been diagnosed but do not have a treatment and management plan.
- Once a treatment and management plan has been developed, additional medicare rebates are available up until the child reaches the age of 15. This provides for up to a maximum of 20 services for early intervention treatment with one of the allied health professionals, if recommended in the treatment plan.
More detailed information about the Medicare component of the package is available at http://www.health.gov.au/autism or you can call the Department of Health and Ageing on (02) 6289 4297, or the Medicare Australia Patient Enquiry Line on 13 20 11.
The Early Intervention provisions are being managed by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and involve:
- $12 000 in individual assistance will be provided for children aged six and under who are diagnosed with an ASD and who are not yet at school. This funding is to provide such early intervention services as one-on-one intensive activities and tailored group and individual programs. Families living in rural and remote areas may also be able to access an additional $2000. Families will choose the early intervention service that best suits their child from a panel of service providers currently being established by FaHCSIA. A list of service providers can be found on the FaHCSIA page Early Intervention Service Provider Panel. The list is not yet complete as the application process only began in September but the list will be updated as providers are approved.
- There are to be 40 Autism Advisors who will assist families and carers of children diagnosed with an ASD to access advice and information about appropriate early intervention services. Details of the organizations providing the autism advisory services can be found at Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Autism Advisors
- A national program of workshops, commencing February 2009 will assist families and carers to provide the most appropriate support for their child and inform on how to provide effective early intervention activities in the home. The workshops are being run by the Parenting Research Centre
- Six new autism specific child care centres are to be established (SW Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, NW Tasmania, Melbourne and Perth).
- 150 playgroups for children with ASD or ASD like symptoms are being created, called PlayConnect to provide play-based learning opportunities for children as well as information and social support networks for their families and carers. These are being set up by Playgroup Australia. To date, two PlayConnect groups have been opened (in Campbelltown and Wagga Wagga) with another 8 before the end of this year (Mackay , Toowoomba, Cairns in Qld, Canterbury, Blacktown in NSW and Maribyrnong, Banyule, Hobson’s Bay in Victoria). More information – The PlayConnect section of Playgroup Australia or call the PlayConnect hotline on 1800 790 335 or email the National Program Manager – Judith Keller firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the Helping with Autism Package can be found on the FaHCSIA website – Helping Children with Autism (or you can phone 1800 289 177 or email email@example.com). The Raising Children website which already has a section on Children with a Disability is to be expanded in February 2009 to include ASD resources.
School Age Children – Postive Partnerships
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) is implementing two aspects of the Helping with Autism Package to support school aged children with ASD: This involves:
- Professional development for teachers, school leaders and other school staff who are working with children with ASD.
- Workshops and information sessions for parents and carers of school aged children to assist them to work with their child’s teachers, school leaders and other staff.
The training is being run by the The Australian Autism Education and Training Consortium (AAETC) and is called Positive Partnerships. Workshops are already being run and parents/carers can register for them online – Parents/Carers Workshop Registration. Online workshops and training is also available on the AAETC site and a discussion forum is being developed . At present only one course is online – An Introduction to Autism. You must register on the site to gain access to the training. Registration and the Online Training can be accessed via the button found on the top right hand site of the Positive Partnership website pages
A child with Fragile X, would also have to have a diagnosis of a PDD to be included in the services available under the package.