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Cutting High Functioning Autism Funding Re: NDIS

By Jane Salmon

The person who allegedly killed Euridyce Dixon has been said to be struggling with autism.

This is not an excuse for anything he may have done. What has happened is inexcusable.

Not only has a fine woman of wit and conscience had her life taken … Not only has someone innocent died in terror … Not only are all women more afraid, triggered or re-triggered … Not only are rights to freedom of movement and to work curtailed … The potential of this autistic person has also been wasted.

The alleged aggressor/murderer was a person who had not (by virtue of his age) had sufficient access to consistent, well-funded, early intervention autism therapy and timely social and professional support.

No doubt he met some fabulous educators along the way: but perhaps not early enough or often enough.

Therapy under NDIS for high functioning autism is expensive. It is also critical for human safety. Such funding is currently under threat.

It is not cheaper to house autistic people for life in gaol than to supply appropriate therapy in a timely way.

Murder is a pretty poor outcome for any “social story”.

Do not let this happen again. Do not cut the NDIS for any person with any category of autism until it has been proven that the client is able to function and work and socialise safely within society.

J Salmon
Autism Mum


17 comments

  1. Carol Taylor

    There are many people including myself who fought for Aspergers/high functioning autism to be recognised in schools as a disability rather than a learning difficulty/behaviour problem; the levels of support in schools being substantial different. Who knows what might have been if children had their disability recognised? Of note is that Martin Bryant of the Port Arthur massacre was found during the course of his trial to be autistic and have the verbal reasoning ability of an 11 year old.

  2. Sandra Searle

    Totally agree with your statement Carol. We have a few high functioning artistic grandchildren in our family and they have definitely needed more specialist support in school. These kids are wonderfully different in their ways of thinking but they benefit far more from the help they are receiving at present.

  3. diannaart

    Not all men are rapists.

    Not all people with mental illness are violent or rapists.

    In fact, more men who are apparently normal (whatever that means) are also abusive, violent and sexual predators. Some women are guilty of such antisocial behaviour also – just not very many when compared to men.

    I feel for Jane Salmon – the bean counters at NDIS need little excuse to cut or refuse aid.

    Nor do people with mental illness need to be tarred as a result of behaviour of violent predators.

  4. Lurline O'Brien

    I’m a friend of Eurydice. Thanks for this, it’s important. I have an ex partner who threatened to kill me just 3 weeks ago, he sent messages to many of my comedy friends telling them I’d killed myself. Funding for treatment for him earlier (I suspect he’s a 53 year old undiagnosed sufferer of something) would have meant the comedy world not needing to fear and mourn so much over the last month.

    I couldn’t attend the vigil tonight. All I can think is I was nearly dead 3 weeks ago, she’s dead now. How much violence from undiagnosed and untreated violent people should we need to endure.

  5. New England Cocky

    “The term “autism spectrum” is a label given to persons who do not fit any of the book definitions of other “disorders”. i accept the comments of others here, but my story is different.

    My grandson was diagnosed “on the autism spectrum” very early and unknown to us was extremely sensitive to loud noise, especially background noise. Some excellent advice from therapists and considerable effort from parents and live-in grand parents encouraged this lad to become “sociable”.

    At 3 he considered counting to one million before breakfast the best way to start the day.

    At 6 he was beating his grandfather at chess on merit: no easy wins, on merit.

    At 9 he taught himself to play piano with two independent hands from an adult teach yourself piano book.

    Now approaching 10, he is consuming algebra, usually found difficult by teenagers.

    There is a theory that in our 60s generation the only survivors of the rigours of university education were those showing the usual symptoms of ADD and ADHD; hyper concentration or the ability to concentrate despite the background events an noise, independent original thinking when problem solving and a flair for artistic expression of any/all sorts.

    There is no psychological excuse for the actions that led to the untimely passing of Eurydice Dixon. Regardless of any “mental condition”, all persons, including the alleged perpetrator, are responsible for the consequences of their own actions.

  6. diannaart

    New England Cocky

    Well said. Too often “mental illness” is a label of convenience to excuse abhorrent behaviour. The overwhelming majority of people with some form of psychological “disorder” are not violent or rapists. Just as the majority of men are not violent or rapists.

    We desperately need increased services for those who are mentally ill.

    We also, desperately need a paradigm shift in our culture with regard to sexuality. Sex is a normal human desire which has been commodified to the extent where women, young men and children are perceived as consumables and not entitled to respect.

    Lurline O’Brien

    No words are adequate.

    I used to live in Brunswick many years ago, walked the same streets as Jill Meagher, and Princes Park was a part of a regular jogging routine. I have been followed by men (singly or groups) in cars occasionally – but knew my streets well and could run really fast and was lucky for the most part …

    Telling women to what to do in dangerous circumstances does not and will not change the behaviour of a few who believe their privilege extends to taking whatever it is they think they want.

  7. jimhaz

    A whooping big NO from me in relation to High Functioning Autism being included in NIDS.

    I’ve seen this sort of funding extension occur previously with school transport. It lead to the costs doubling as ministers progressively OKed more and more type of disability to be included.

    Sorry, but with NIDS we cannot afford any such situation.

    [There is no psychological excuse for the actions that led to the untimely passing of Eurydice Dixon. Regardless of any “mental condition”, all persons, including the alleged perpetrator, are responsible for the consequences of their own actions]

    Of course there is a psychological excuse. We do not have souls – we have an environment that determines absolutely what our personality will be. Every criminal and every do-gooder is a caused agent. The term environment includes everything that affects us – genetics, the physical environment and experiences (even self-reflection) which leads to the development of set of mental programs we call the ego. It is this program that drives actions.

    The problem is that such excuses MUST be ignored for anyone (other than those at the extremes where adult level logic is not possible). It is much the same as a judge not taking into account the background of persons who commit crime – it would be a never ending investigation and trial and make crimes “non-criminal” and thus remove the social fears that we must have to survive in large groups.

  8. paul walter

    I read last week in the wake of the murder that the man had problems with autism and Aspergers and it likely that he would be treated but not detained for any particular length of time for treatment.

    The Drum host Julia Baird suggested that such an issue was not a subject for comment on that show (apologetically?) after a panellist made a general point alluding probably to the legals problem, which was defined by a friend in the mental health field as relating to something called a “Section 269”, which infers a “not fit to plead”, which seemed to follow the line in the newspaper article that this meant not to be detained but discharged for anything beyond assessment purposes.

    Now, if these means the man involved in the death is “not fit to plead”, how is he fit to walk the streets without significant treatment (perhaps impossible in his situation)?

    I will say here I have already been accused of wanting to “lock up” “people with mental disabilities”.

    But I can’t believe a proper facility does not exist for such situations (that is NOT a dungeon), from the point of view of longterm necessary treatment, let alone Public Safety.

    Is Jane Salmon unreasonable?

    Am I?

    Has infrastructure cutting meant that even essential services are let go for tax cuts for the big end, say?

  9. Meg

    Pornography of the foulest type – coerscive, disrespectful and violent is freely available to any male child. It is there first source of sex education and we need to discuss preventing access across the board. Any child with a WiFi-enabled device can easily access this material, sometimes by accident. What children see, they normalise and it’s no wonder men of all ages treat women like receptacles. The huge problem is the current generation that have been exposed to it over the last two decades. We could block it entirely with a national filter. The right of children not to be exposed to hard-core violent and degrading porn is more important than the right of consenting adults to access and consume porn.

  10. DrakeN

    Rather than blaming pornography, which has existed as long as humans have been able to write about and illustrate human sexuality, you might be wiser to concentate on why, in our supposedly enlightened age, it continues to be created and why it is so ubiquitous and is almost universally accessed.
    A deeper understanding of the adverse effects of that Unholy Trinity of Politics, Commerce and Religion to which I frequently refer might be beneficial to you.

  11. Meg

    DrakeN, with the advent of internet and mobile technology, more children are being exposed to vile material that treats women in the most disgusting way. Pornography has existed for a long time, but not to this degree and this amount so easily accessible by children in their own homes. Ignore it if you like… sexual assaults and relationship problems will rise as a result. Which is more important, the rights of adults to consume hard-core pornography, or the rights of children not to be exposed to it?

  12. helvityni

    Paul Walter,

    “Is Jane Salmon unreasonable?

    Am I?”

    NO, you or Jane are not…

    We do not have proper facilities for mentally ill people. They walk the streets. and as there are no facilities to treat them, they’ll go to jail if committing a crime…

    My in-laws took matters in their own hands, their mentally ill son was flown to Holland (where they came from), the trip for two accompanying nurses was paid by Dutch Government; happy ending for all…. Parents followed up soon after to be near the son who needed them most…

  13. diannaart

    Yes, DrakeN, porn has been present throughout human history – however, as noted by Meg, not the extreme and easily discovered porn available at the touch of a key pad.

    Also, throughout human history, women and children have been regarded mostly as chattel. And what we refer to as sexual abuse in the 21st C, used to be considered acceptable instead of criminal.

    I recall when discovering a copy of National Geographic was considered titillating. Or finding a stash of dad’s Penthouse under the matrimonial bed. Sort of shocking, nauseating and fascinating.

    I can’t begin to imagine what stumbling on even fairly mainstream sex would create in a child’s mind.

    Extreme porn – people being denigrated in the, oh so, many ways people (children and adults) can be denigrated – as an adult I find this material as dismal and even threatening.

    Not so extreme was a highly regarded movie from last century. I recall, as a very young adult, walking out of the cinema with a girlfriend after seeing “A Clockwork Orange” – now this move is not porn – but we raced to the car, not looking at any of the men exiting around us, wondering, what were they thinking?

    I used to work in a chemical lab checking samples of polymers – every Thursday the men I worked with would go to a strip club to booze up and watch women. Women who realised they weren’t qualified for high paying work with a career path, but were nubile and attractive enough to work some very long hours stripping or lap-dancing, well, for a few years.

    When my colleagues returned from “lunch”, I wondered what are they thinking?

    I have written before as Meg has done – right here at AIMN and been called a liar and, apparently, some kind of uber-conservative! WTF? Apparently I want to see porn banned – I do not. I just want to see children given every opportunity to grow and thrive – grow into adults who respect each other. A world were sex is actually fun for informed consenting adults and not about power – who has power and who has to submit.

    Apologies for straying from topic.

  14. Kelly

    Meg, the link is obvious. We go out of our way to keep guns and knives away from children due to their immaturity and poor impulse control, but not porn. At some point in the not too distant future I can see porn will replace pedo priests as the agent deemed to have done the most damage in society post-internet. And who was responsible, the film industry, the politicians, the internet provider, or a society that failed to see it coming due to its naive? If a group of children are accidentally poisoned questions get asked. The lag time for viewing porn and acting out in life tends to obscure the toxic nature of porn and its impact on the impressionable minds of children.
    DrakeN is also right, porn is worth $10B per year and that group won’t go quietly, politicians are a fail on every other issue so expect no joy there, and traditional religions have made themselves irrelevant so they will be of limited help. That leaves the community to fix the mess a few are making.
    Diannaart, all true. It took hundreds of years before the mistreatment of children in churches was exposed, hopefully the more extreme parts of the porn industry can be shut down more quickly.

  15. paul walter

    Thanks again Helvi.

  16. diannaart

    Kate

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Indeed, the porn industry is a “money-maker” – it will remain as such.

    However, we can speak out against the easy availability of inexcusably nasty porn – from paedophilia through to so-called “snuff” moves (which are claimed not to exist). We can also spend a great deal more time in educating our children and providing a place where children can talk without shame should they see any type of confronting image, be it porn or other disturbing material.

    It is also telling who is (or not) prepared to speak out against the ever present debasement of our sexuality – and equally as telling those who attempt to derail discussion by denigration of others. Or by pretending no-one is even talking about the link between sex as commodity and sexual predation in our homes and on our streets.

    Further complication is where people with mental illness are influenced by what are “accepted” cultural norms – the apparent ease of availability of sex and capitalist exploitation of sex.

    As noted above by Jane, Carol, Sandra and others, there is insufficient support for people with mental illness. However, not all people with mental illness are sexual predators – most sexual crime is perpetrated by people who are apparently sane if not civil.

    In a society where men continue to be viewed as aggressive and women as passive, gender-based stereotypes are subliminally reinforced.

    Also the stereotyping of the mentally ill as dangerous rather than ill creates a convenient scapegoat for those whose vested interests are to shift blame.

  17. DrakeN

    diannaart: “Also, throughout human history, women and children have been regarded mostly as chattel.”

    Not in the Celtic world into which I was born, nor in many Nordic societies.

    Maybe you need to both broaden and redefine your concept of ‘history’.

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