#HealthcareNotHandcuffs. Better support for people with autism.

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My name is Grace and I run an organisation that helps families with an autistic family member. Everyday, we take endless calls from families in crisis. The current system is incapable of catering to children with complex needs. This is why I’m calling on each state to put in place a mental health support system for autistic individuals.

Anxiety is a real and serious issue for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This disabling anxiety can take the form of other disorders, creating complex needs. Out of desperation, families often call the police when the child is violent or aggressive due to their complex needs. The police then call an ambulance and the child is sedated in the Emergency room. They are sent home only so this vicious cycle can begin again. 

The child is often suffering trauma from the endless restraints, both physical and chemical, with no one addressing the cause of the behaviours. Our little children need specialised mental health support, not handcuffs. It is heartbreaking that families have no recourse other than the police when violent episodes occur.

Government departments are siloed and as a result, services are fragmented - no one wants to take responsibility for an issue that crosses over into many different departments. But this must change if we want a better future for our children.

This is why I’m calling on each state, starting with NSW, to reform the current system and put in place a mental health support system for autistic individuals. We need specialised facilities that offer the following:

- A holistic approach to the needs of the family

- Mental health assessments for the child with complex needs

- Family support/social worker linking services for family members such as ongoing counselling, respite for siblings etc ensuring all departmental stakeholders are engaged and collaborating for a positive outcome. This includes the departments of Education, Disabilities, Housing, Health, Mental Health.

- Training for the family around the needs of the child with the diagnosis.

- If the parents also have mental health issues, there needs to be training and support for them on how to manage their concerns

- Someone to handle NDIS applications, reviews and escalations

- Part inpatient/ part outpatient facility for all the family that will be part of the program for 4 to 6 weeks. 

- Outreach service for families to contact with questions and concerns.

Please sign and share the petition to help bring about change for thousands of families who are suffering in silence.