Yesterday we went and listened to Julie Bishop MP
at the autism association early learning centre, about a new funding plan for autism over the next 5 years proposed by the federal government. One of those initiatives is putting the diagnosis process, speech therapy and occupational therapy on to medicare
. This is a good thing, we spent $5000 on private therapies over 18 months, so this is all too late for us which makes me wonder that while the government knew that speech and OT were the most required services they have always been omitted from the medicare list.
We were lucky we had financial help from family and cut our budget to the bone, did it have a negative impact, yes, our ability to save any amount was reduced to zero, we relied on our tax return to pay bills, things were tight but we came out the other side. I just worry about people that don't have financial support from family or are already doing it tough, how are they able to get the therapy their children need?
Yes we have the autism association, and the job they do is amazing, but they do not have sufficient funding to offer all the therapy these kids need, at the moment there are 102 children enrolled at the centre and 48 on the waiting list, to help these kids they have started opening the centre on weekends. The staff and especially the director Tasha Allach amaze me, they love these kids and in my opinion they work magic, we will forever be in their debt.
While I thought the governments package was very light on cash I could see some good and it gave myself and other centre families the opportunity to let it be known what it is really like for our children and our families. Many families experience social and financial hardship, 50% of marriages end in divorce that rises to 85% when you are dealing with an adult child with autism being cared for in the home. Creating playgroups isn't going to help this, support, respite , therapy and counselling are a start though. I know when Alec was first diagnosed we called the local area coordinator for disability services and they had nothing to offer us, that was a dark day, all of a sudden you are told your child has autism and yet there is nothing to help you.
We are almost at the end of our early intervention journey, that in itself is daunting, I feel as though my safety net is slipping away, I know there are other agencies that will step in but will they have the feel of family that the centre staff have felt like these past 2 years.
My hope is for more funding for the centre, more help for families and more awareness of autism.