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PM, Leader of the Opposition, Health Minister & Shadow Health Minister: Discuss the medical nature of autism in a public forum

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Autism numbers are rising at an alarming rate in Australia and internationally.

Recent CDC figures from the USA state 1 in 88 children have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. These figures are based on statistics from 2003. The actual incidence rate is thought to be much higher.

The Australian national average autism prevalence in school age children exceeded 1.4% (1 in 62.5) by June 2012, based on Centrelink Carer Allowance data.

Recent hearings in the US Congress House Oversight Committee revealed gross inconsistencies in the US Government's understandings of the causes and medical manifestations of what we currently call ‘autism spectrum disorders’. While ASDs are currently diagnosed behaviourally, autistic people increasingly live with a spectrum of medical conditions and needs that are generally poorly diagnosed and managed. These issues include gastrointestinal dysfunction, auto-immune disease, seizure disorders, mitochondrial disorders, metabolic disorders, allergies and intolerances, among others. Autism is not one condition any more if, indeed, it ever was.

It is that crucial Australia addresses these issues, as the medical, social, educational and economic costs of the current acceleration in diagnosis have barely been felt.

While we currently enjoy support for Early Intervention and limited support for therapeutic intervention, autism is a lifelong disabling condition for the majority of those diagnosed. Australian people living with autism currently face an uncertain future.

Meanwhile, more children each day are diagnosed with a condition of unknown cause, with no cure. This cannot be good enough for a country that prides itself on intellectual rigor and investment in its children.

What do medical experts guiding the Australian Government currently understand to be the causes of autism? What is the medical model for the diagnosis and treatment of children at risk? How is the Australian Government working to reduce the current diagnostic rate of autism spectrum disorders?

We would like the current Australian Prime Minister, Health Minister and respected medical colleagues to share their insights and understandings of these, and many other, questions related to the medical nature of autism, with the people for whom the condition is a lifelong concern, in a public forum.

We would like this to happen, so we are all working on the same platform of understanding of this increasingly dynamic and debilitating condition.

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