Representing People with Autism for their Ensured Access to the Best Resource, Treatment and Support [Interview][Transcript]

Louise_Davies_Autism_SAGuest: Louise Davies
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Louise is Deputy CEO at Autism SA and has been with the organisation in a variety of roles for the past 8 years since emigrating from the UK. Louise is responsible for the governance and strategic decision making within Individualised Services and Programs area of the organisation. She has been responsible for the development and implementation of services for Autism SA thorough a variety of funding mechanisms from State and Commonwealth funding through to NDIS and fee for service initiatives. Louise has worked with a variety of levels of state and federal government, Department for Social Services and has good relationships with the NDIA. In her recent term as Acting CEO assisted the organisation to transition from an Incorporated Association to a Company Limited by Guarantee. Louise has worked in the Education, Disability and Not for Profit sectors for the past 23 years, she has a BSc(Hons), Postgraduate Certificates in Teaching, Special and Inclusive Education, autism and a Diploma in Management.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, learn more about the diagnosis and treatment for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from our guest Autism SA Deputy CEO Louise Davies. It is an organization founded by people with family members that have autism and they wanted to make sure that their loved ones will have access to the best information, education, treatment and support. They provide individualised and person-centred services and support for people living with ASD and/or a family member, carer or a professional looking for the latest information about ASD. They offer a range of quality services that are innovative and follow evidence based practice that are of world class standards. They also advocate acceptance and understanding in the community of people living with this type of disorder.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Louise Davies. Louise is the Deputy CEO of Autism SA based in South Australia. Louise welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Louise Davies: Thank you Wayne.

W: Now Louise autism is one of those words that has this unique naming in some environments and in other environments it’s often misunderstood. Can you tell us what it is that Autism SA does?

L: We do many things at Autism SA. And at the moment it’s very interesting because we’re supporting the children at South Australia as we transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. So we provide services in many guises through therapeutic services, occupational therapy, speech pathology, we provide diagnoses for individuals who think they may have Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that’s all ages from children right through to adult. We also provide hospice services for individuals and skill building activity. We provide day option services for adults and social development group, and we provide support in schools as well on a one to one basis for individuals and support for teachers, so consultancy support for teachers. And we provide lots of training as well and for all professionals but particularly in schools and for families and parents.

W: Now Louise you’re one of the, I don’t know what do you call, the early adaptors on one of the trial sites for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as I understand it?

L: That’s right, I think we’re the first to go and completely state wide. And we have taken which is a bit of an effort I think, and we’ve come and for the children’s age cohort. So each child that does not belong to the 14, now that’s a little bit of a slow down over the past year or so. So we’re really concentrating on the sick at the moment but slowly taken in that not 14 cohort.

W: And has that been any interesting journey for you?

L: Oh, the interesting? Yes it certainly has. The number of increased, I think to the numbers that we’re expecting the bilateral agreement. So the actual real numbers were probably more accurate as we may have expected, almost double I think than were in the bipartisan agreement. And that of course some issues I think in general, look it will sort itself out eventually there’s a trial and I think we all have to remember that. But undoubtedly those…that have got funds with the NDIS have got some great support in place.

W: Generally you’re an enthusiast then?

L: I think I will be, (Laugh) I think ‘will be’ as the NDIS rolls out and it’s really embedded properly. It’s really difficult at this time for everybody, when you are trying to support families and you can see that they’re waiting for a plan and they haven’t yet got the support they need, that was really difficult for us. But when you can see others families that have got support that they need but through the NDIS you can also see that that’s great. So it’s in a difficult transition phase at the moment, I can see what might happen and that will be great. But I can also see … at the moment, and that’s not so great you know.

W: We’ll put it down as a tension … plus given the …problems.

L: Yeah.

W: Louise many of our audience are clinicians mainly in acute care and in aged care. As a result of them having heard you today on the radio, what’s your take away message for them?

L: Well autism is a lifelong condition you know. It doesn’t go away, it changes over time as the individual changes and grows. So those individuals with autism will maintain it throughout their life, and that’s interesting because I think people may, and I think family struggle with this as well actually, that it definitely is maintained above skills and development, and therapies, and support can really support the individual with ASD to simple strategy, to really help from the day. Particularly if they are in hospital setting or in aged care setting, so Autism SA under the organizations like us can certainly help in those settings and help to training, staffing those settings if that’s what required. And but there are things that can be done to support individuals with autism in whatever service setting they maybe.

W: And I have to confess in my ignorance, it never occurred to me that autism could be an issue in aged care but I guess if it’s something that doesn’t go away, it’s gonna end up in aged care eventually, doesn’t it?

L: That’s exactly right, and that’s what we’ve seen now of course we focus so much in early intervention around the young age cohort, but obviously those individuals go well and what we’re seeing now is a greater prevalence in the older age cohort. And the great growing prevalence of ASD diagnosis is in that adult age cohort which have not traditionally been diagnosed. So yes, so that’s where we’re seeing our growth.

W: It’s interesting. I’m always fascinated with my work, really because I’m privileged to talk to interesting people all day and it’s always extraordinary how a little I know about the world after a talk to you.

L: (laugh) I would never call myself an expert Wayne.

W: But I’m allowed to, you see. Now tell me if not an expert then someone who deals with misconceptions, because misconceptions are everywhere in the world. What’s the biggest misconception in your work amongst your clients, customers, patients, that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

L: I think that autism is a spectrum and so there are so many I think well the take away message is that each individual with autism is unique. So within that one person with autism, even that one person with autism, you can’t categorize anybody with ASD. You are just have to accept that everybody’s unique, therefore they’re different. They may have some similar characteristics but you can’t say “This is going to definitely work for this person.” And so and that also goes for intervention strategy and support, you have to tailor that and I think work with different interventions just as depending on the uniqueness of that individual. So I think that for me, would be the thing that I would say is when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.

W: I think that’s a the great saying. In a world where we cope best when everyone fits neatly into the boxes with everyone else, it is indeed worth considering that in some circumstances we are so individual that the out of the box solution just doesn’t fit us.

L: That’s right. Yup.

W: Louise it’s been a pleasure having a chat with you today, I do thank you for giving your us your time, I realize it’s a busy time for you. People who are interested in getting in touch with you is that the best way for people who want to get a hold of you?

L: That’s the website and there is a website inquiry form on there. And there is also a contact us page with our phone number and all the details on that that you may require. Yup, that’s the best way.

W: Now if you’ve just missed my chat with Louise Davies the Deputy CEO of Autism SA, the good news is we have a transcript on our website. We also have an archive on YouTube and on SoundCloud of the audio and you can get both of those at My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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