Welcome to BioAutism

BioAutism is the only charity in Australia dedicated specifically to raising awareness and funding for research into what causes autism.

In 2017 it is estimated that about 3000 babies will be born in Australia with autism adding to the existing autistic population of about 240,000.

Government funding for basic autism research in Australia is very limited. We need your support so that Australian scientists can help find the causes of autism, and produce better diagnostic tools and treatments than are currently available.

Ethan's* story

Perhaps Ethan's story is one that goes back to his birth in 2013. He was born with jaundice and, not long after, contracted bronchopneumonia, so he was in NICU for two weeks where he was started on phototherapy and antibiotics to address the pneumonia. He was in good health for only two weeks before he was diagnosed with respiratory infection, which kept recurring.

As good parents, we took Ethan for all his vaccination appointments and he met all his milestones on time. He was sitting by 5 months, crawling already by 7 months and walking supported at 9 months. At exactly one year he could walk on his own and ride an automated bike. He was a chubby happy boy who responded to love and attention. He can be heard babbling and responding to instruction happily in all his videos. Despite achieving his milestones, every two months or so, Ethan kept acquiring ear infections and received lots of antibiotics for these. Between 13 months and 18 months he picked up about 5-8 words and could use them occasionally with understanding and context.

Between 18 months and 24 months I became concerned as his vocabulary was not increasing, and neither was he calling mum or dad in excitement anymore when we returned from work. I consulted his paediatrician who brushed it off, suggesting that late talking may be a hereditary factor, and we should wait and see how he developed. Before long Ethan began to be withdrawn, playing alone, rather than with his sisters whom he used to follow everywhere, and he became fixated on strands of grass in the yard. In fact, it was hard to get him to stay inside the house.

In March 2015, when he was just over two years old, we had a holiday, which involved a long flight of 13 hours. He covered his ears the whole time, was bothered by the sound of the plane, and hated the confined space. He subsequently became unable to stand loud sounds, developed phobias, and was scared to be enclosed in a room. He was fearful of strangers, and began having 5-10 meltdowns a day.

I resolved to get him assessed in June 2016, and the psychologist, paediatrician, and speech therapist were in no doubt about his diagnosis: autism with Global Development Delay (GDD). By this time my little boy was head banging, not only when he was upset, but sometimes for no apparent reason. He was a picky eater with only two foods on his menu, very constipated daily, and could not feed himself or hold a spoon. He could not point, or even follow directions, had poor sleeping habits, was spitting food due to being averse to certain textures, and had many other issues. His Autism Treatment and Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) score was 129, and our family socialisation and public life became very difficult.

Following the diagnosis, we enrolled him for speech therapy (ST) and occupational therapy (OT) but found progress was minimal. The Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) funding certainly was not enough to cover Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), so the only option was OT, ST, and Early Childhood Intervention(ECI).

Ethan is now a non-verbal, severely autistic, 4.5-year-old boy who does not have self-help skills like toileting or dressing himself, and cannot follow many instructions well.

I believe there is a crucial need to address underlying medical issues, in addition to using the above-mentioned therapies.

* Name changed