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My 2023 National Autism Strategy Submission

Updated: Nov 20, 2023



ABOUT ME: My name is Patrick Saunders and I am a non-speaker who communicates with a letterboard. I am autistic and I love to spell, bushwalk, swim and move. I am 14 years old.


1) The National Autism Strategy will aim to provide better support and life outcomes for Autistic people in Australia. Based on your experience, what are the main things you think it should focus on?


EDUCATION:

As a non-speaking speller teachers need to teach using a letterboard and presume

competence. Teachers need to teach age-appropriate curriculum and learn Spelling to

Communicate using a letterboard.


DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS:

Doctors and hospitals need to be autism specific and disability trained. I think every time I go

to the doctor I wait too long. This is really difficult for Autistic people.


SERVICES AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT NON-SPEAKERS:

There are not enough services to support non-speakers. The disability programs focus on

speakers and they need to support non-speakers. The Government needs to create more

programs. Businesses that support non-speakers need more services and support workers

that are trained.


GOVERNMENT:

The Government needs to teach its citizens how to interact with autistic people.


2) What do you think would help improve attitudes in the community and people’s understanding of Autism?


I don’t feel included in society as a non-speaking Autistic person because people treat me

differently and don’t accommodate my needs.


Education needs to change attitudes and understanding more than any other area because

non-speakers need the most support and a way to communicate their needs and wants.

If the government made the suggested changes my life would improve and I would be

happier. The strategies are not rocket science.


3) What do you want a National Autism Strategy to achieve?


One thing that would change life outcomes for Autistic non-speakers is if people always

allowed letterboard communication by teaching Spelling to Communicate and an age-

appropriate curriculum. I think people think Autistic non-speakers are not intelligent.

Spelling to Communicate is so important because it provides a method of communication for

people who can’t talk and who have motor planning difficulties. Spelling to Communicate

changed my life.


If the National Autism Strategy was successful non-speakers would be able to have teachers

who understand Spelling to Communicate using a letterboard. Autistic non-speakers lives

would improve because they would have their needs and wants met. They would have

control and choices in their day to day activities.


4) How can we make sure Autistic people continue to be included in things that impact their experience of life?


The National Autism Strategy needs to listen to non-speakers who communicate using a

letterboard. I would expect to be involved in developing the National Autism Strategy into

the future. I want to be invited to present my thoughts. The Strategy now needs to make the

changes listed from Autistic people all over Australia.

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