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Disabled Students In Australia

Abadnonned schoolWe're at the end of autism whatever you want month. Perhaps in May we can extoll cancer for its weight loss properties, unless it would tick of Ozempic. This week, we'll be taking a look at Donald Trump's latest scattershot attack on the very topic that launched Age of Autism. Not from a political POV. That’s outside our pay grade. 

By Anne Dachel

The beginning of the end for Australia. This simply can’t continue.

Two articles, purporting to be the result of investigative journalism, were published by the Guardian on April 28th. They were about the impact disabled students are having on schools in Australia.

Reporter Sarah Martin wrote about the ongoing crisis in special  education in Australia, but something critical was missing  in both stories as you will see.

Things are pretty dire

Her main piece had the dramatic headline:

How the rise of autism and ADHD fractured Australia’s schools


25 percent of students have special needs

Almost a million Australian schoolchildren now have a disability – that’s one in four enrolments. Parents, teachers and advocates say education is at crisis point

It was a rather lengthy article, all about how schools in Australia continue to fail special needs children, most notably, those with autism and ADHD.

One in 25 students have autism

 In classrooms today, an estimated 4% of seven- to 14-year-olds now have a primary diagnosis of autism, while between 6% and 10% of children have ADHD.

Teachers struggle

“You might have a student who might be on the autism spectrum and they find the classroom noisy and they might have headphones, or they might have a specific card that they flash to the teacher that says ‘I want out’ and need a sensory break.

In the same classroom you could have children with attendance issues or other challenging behaviours, she says. “You have got mental health issues. . .

“You will have a whole range of disabilities, formally diagnosed and imputed, and you could have some of those kids that come with IFS [integration funding support] or partial attendance programs.

“It can be confronting. The classroom and the behaviours are becoming more and more challenging and the time that teachers are being given hasn’t changed.”  

Things need to change

Teachers are clearly overwhelmed with the needs of the large number of disabled children, and as usual, the solution is MORE FUNDING, MORE TRAINING.

Julie Phillips, who advocates for families pursuing disability discrimination cases against the Victorian education department, says that in the absence of adequate funding, schools are resorting to crude measures to manage the pressure with suspensions and exclusions used repeatedly against children with a disability. . . .

But the president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council says resources are always stretched, and that there is a shortage of school counsellors, student support officers (SSOs) and psychologists. . . .

Advocate Julie Phillips agrees the sector is underfunded – but believes inclusive education in Australia has been “set up to fail” by education departments. . . . 

Linda Graham, director of the Centre for Inclusive Education at Queensland University of Technology, believes there needs to be “a systematic, seismic shift” in the way Australian schools approach inclusive education.  . . .

 “There are a growing number of children who are struggling within the school system due to developmental disabilities. This is not a marginal issue … this is now education, and it is difficult to think of an issue that affects people more on a day to day basis in the education setting than disability.”

“If we are to truly create inclusive classrooms, we have to have everything on the table, from teacher training, all the way through to the basic architecture of buildings.

“There are many children with disabilities who are educated in the same classrooms as their peers that are not receiving an inclusive education because the classrooms, the teachers, the level of support is not set up for that.

 “That is not a fault of any single part of the system. That’s an issue with funding at the top, all the way down to simple architecture at the bottom.”

 More disabled students

 “There are a growing number of children who are struggling within the school system due to developmental disabilities. This is not a marginal issue … this is now education, and it is difficult to think of an issue that affects people more on a day to day basis in the education setting than disability.” . . . 

Where are these kids coming from?

This was a very long article, and naturally one would expect that there would be a lot said about why one in every 25 students, one in every 15 boys is on the autism spectrum and why 25 percent of students have special needs.

Incredibly that issue was covered in exactly ONE SENTENCE:

Experts point to the National Disability Insurance Scheme as a key driver of the growth, along with changes to how schools assess disability for reporting purposes.

I took this to mean that because the support system is there, more children are using it.

Actually it’s probably the reverse. The Disability Insurance Scheme is simply being impacted by MORE DISABLE CHILDREN; the effect is not the cause.

Secondly, Martin falls back on the tired claim that it’s all greater awareness, better diagnosing, which is always the explanation for more and more disabled children.

Martin’s second piece was an explanation for the first.

Why the Guardian is investigating the deep failings in Australia’s school system

Here the Guardian tried to sound like it was doing authentic journalism.

A Guardian investigation has uncovered deep failings in Australia’s education system, which is struggling to cope with the soaring number of children with disabilities.

 There are now almost one million Australian school students classified as having a disability and needing some sort of adjustment to learn – a 40% increase since 2017.

 Across Australia, a staggering one in four now have a disability of some kind.

 Many parents the Guardian spoke to are at breaking point. They feel adrift and desperate as they try to navigate a school system for their child that was designed for a different reality.

 And autism, ADHD are behind all this growth in special education.

Autism and ADHD rates among children in schools are at record highs. In classrooms today, an estimated 4% of seven to 14-year-olds have a primary diagnosis of autism, while between 6% and 10% of children have ADHD.

The Guardian called out the government for not doing enough.

Compounding these challenges is the deeply inequitable school funding arrangements that have characterised Australian school funding for many years – an inequity that is worsening despite the promise of the Gonski reforms. . . .

At a state level, there is a patchwork of funding arrangements with limited transparency, leaving many children with disabilities without the support they need to receive an education.

Australia supports the right to an inclusive education under international law. We have a duty to support students with a disability to be educated in a mainstream school environment.

But we are falling far short of delivering this ideal. As one disability advocate told the Guardian: it is “a broken system, buckling under pressure”.

What Sarah Martin completely failed to do here was to adequately explain why so many Australian children can’t learn normally. She blithely dismissed all the statistics as no real increase at all, just more awareness.

Martin also showed no interest in the continuing increases.

It would serve no purpose to increase teacher training, special needs funding and add more support staff if within the next few years, one in 20 students have autism and then later, one in 15.

What if by 2030, 40 percent of Australia’s students qualify for special education services?

There will never be enough of anything if these increases continue.

The  Guardian, like the press everywhere in the world, totally refuses to address the real problem: never-ending, enormous increases in disabled students flooding their schools, especial those with AUTISM and ADHD.

No one is willing ask why it’s happening.

I have very little hope for Australia.

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.


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Angus Files

Even Students that are pigeon boxed as normal,how many in the old fashioned meaning of normal,rudely healthy,an all rounder in sport, intelectual would there be?not many.The bar has been lowered and as a great person said on here, its impossible to vaccinate and keep all your faculties.

Wilcox writes like a certain person on here we all know well,Fill you in later.

Pharma For Prison


susan welch

Thank you, Anne, for another excellent article.

Despite what Willcox (Will/Bill?) says, the increase in disability, especially autism/ASD is increasing at a horrifying rate. The cover up is infuriating and surely cannot last too much longer.

The increase in autism has a direct correlation to the increase in childhood vaccination schedules, despite what Willcox tries to assert. There is no doubt.

It is way past time for some brave politicians in a county, anywhere, to order a vaxxed/unvaxxed study.


Liberal diagnostic criteria for Autism and ADHD is getting more absurd by the day. I think the medical, legal and education system needs to make the criteria for any disability or mental illness more strict or else a huge number of mostly white Austrailan and Canadian will be welfare/disabled pension bums and violent criminals that got a absurd mercy from the court. Medical and psychiatric professionals are taking monetary bribe from rich parents for flat out false diagnosis of Autism and ADHD like the recent scandal of college admissions from a few years ago.
I was diagnosed as a child with ADHD and Autism 2 decades ago, even back then those liberal psychologist were beginning to over diagnose both conditions. I also have a rare genetic disorder that causes autism and ADHD symptoms along with more serious health problems.
East Timorese and Papuan children have rarely been diagnosed 'Autism and ADHD" because psychiatrist and pediatrician are designed to treat and diagnose for more serious and legitimate issues.

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