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The Tipping Foundation

Children with Severe Autism Appeal

Will you give respite to teenagers and families who are at grave risk? Your gift today is so important because it could save a family and a child with autism from the devastating trauma of relinquishment.

The 2015 Royal Commission report called 'The life they deserve' found that:

"Because of their high care needs, children with disabilities are at greater risk of entering the (child protection) system through being relinquished by their parents into the care of the Minister. Where a child has profound or severe disabilities, or complex and challenging behaviours associated with disabilities, parents may reach a point where they are unable or unwilling to continue to care for their child. If support is too little or too late, even the most determined and capable family may reach the end of their tether."

Will you help a family to keep their child with severe disability by helping to make short supported breaks away from home available when they are needed?

Your gift will enable us to equip our respite house with the range of therapeutic equipment needed to accommodate children with widely differing needs. 100% of your donation will be used to buy the specialised equipment young people like Justin and Milly need to grow in independence and happiness.

For example:

  • $20 would enable us to buy a book that has been specifically developed for children with autism to help them learn about regulating emotions
  • $50 would enable us to buy a computer game or learning through play aid that has particular benefits for children with ASD
  • $100 would enable us to buy a weighted blanket that, by applying gentle overall pressure, can calm a child with ASD and lift their mood
  • $500 could buy a soothing and educational fish aquarium specifically designed to help children with ASD
  • Gifts of over $1000 would allow us to improve the sensory features of activity rooms and the outdoor areas of the house

The impact of your gift will be far-reaching.

“We estimate that 50 or more families surrender the day-to-day care of their child with disability to the state each year…..Relinquishment is not new and may be increasing..”

Relinquishment causes direct harm to children and families – children experience trauma, grief, fear and confusion…. Trauma lasts for many years…

Relinquishment is costly. It places an additional, unplanned burden on systems that already struggle to meet demand… It costs up to seven times as much to place a child in out-of-home residential care than to provide extensive respite two days per week." (The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission)** 

Your gift this Christmas will help Justin recover after the loss of his mother and will help families like Milly’s to stay together. The following real events* show how children with autism are so vulnerable to the sudden loss of their family.

Just before last Christmas, Justin, a 16 year old boy with severe autism, was staying at The Tipping Foundation respite house at Epping, when his mother took her own life after a long battle with mental illness.

When the time came for Justin to be collected she just didn’t show up. We can’t begin to imagine how disturbing this would have been for a young man who was precariously held together by routine and certainty, and the warmth and touch of his mother.

It would be two weeks before his aunt and uncle’s frantic search for him brought them to our respite house where we had continued caring for Justin, to begin a new journey with a person that they knew only a little, with a severe condition they knew nothing about.

They held back the funeral service for Justin’s mother, and designed it as best they could to help Justin realise what had happened, but it’s hard for him to understand and to communicate how he is feeling. Justin’s aunt says that he refers to his Mum as a butterfly because that's the symbolism they used to represent her being released from darkness at her funeral. Just now he has a fascination with mint which is perhaps a way of saying how much he is missing cooking mint biscuits he used to make with his Mum and Nan. She thinks Christmas will be hard.

It is likely that Justin will still be living in The Tipping Foundation respite house in the north of Melbourne at Christmas, a year after his mum’s death. You can make things a little better for him and for the other young people staying with us by helping them to avert the day to day dangers that make life so tough. It is often boredom and frustration at not being able to communicate their needs and how they are feeling, that trigger break down.

Your gift will enable us to buy therapeutic equipment and fittings that will engage Justin and the other young people who share the house when boredom might otherwise take hold, or soothe them when frustration could trigger agitation, suffering, or aggressive behaviour.

With help from our staff who have specialised training in working with children with autism, Justin’s aunt and uncle are learning how to support Justin when he spends time with them. However, he really needs placement in a supported house where he can begin to build his own life, ideally with one other young person with autism. But such places are rare!

“Children are living permanently in respite centres. In our case studies, a quarter of the children placed in respite facilities were still there six months later. In at least one case reported to us a child has been living in respite for two years or more…. Children are subject to frequent moves – eight out of 12 children in the case studies moved through several respite or transitional house settings, or out-of-home residential care" (The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission)** 

For the moment Justin must stay at the respite house but his journey to independence has begun with the support of The Tipping Foundation team and his aunt and uncle.

Will you help Justin’s recovery to continue without setback this Christmas by helping us to buy the things he needs to settle and be ready to build a new life without his mum?

Milly has just turned 19. Seeing no other alternative, her mother came close to relinquishing her, but the arrival of the NDIS and the opportunity of weekly respite at The Tipping Foundation house came just in time.

Milly's mum Jenny explains: “We’ve had some horrific times. You see kids with autism on the television doing well, but autism is a wide spectrum, and Milly has the most severe autism. She can only say a few words. She gets so frustrated that she can’t communicate – she can’t express pain – and that causes her to be aggressive to me and to her carers.”

Can you help us to ensure that we have the right therapeutic equipment and household fittings to make respite possible for families when they are at their most vulnerable, no matter how severe their child’s autism may be.

Milly’s mum says that that Milly had improved “100%” in the months since she started coming to respite each week.

“It’s hard to describe how anti-social Milly was; she didn’t like it around people at all. But now she goes to the supermarket every week, and to listen to music, which she loves, at a special gig they have at the local hotel on Mondays.”

“The wonderful staff here have carefully identified the things that cause Milly’s distress and trigger her bad times. They help Milly to see them early and to communicate them. They are slowly working with her so that can begin to look after herself in ways she simply couldn’t before”.

Milly’s mum also said that she had tried to get Milly into an adult day program but the centre’s she approached didn’t take her. The Tipping Team at our specialist respite house for children and young people have been able to meet this need by designing a day program for Milly when she is with them each week.

We know your heart will go out to these families. If you are able to donate, 100% of your donation will go to buying the specialised equipment young people like Justin and Milly need to grow in independence and happiness. 

Please donate today or set up a regular donation here online. You will receive an immediate receipt by email and all donations of $2 and over are tax deductible. Or if you would like more information please call us on 03 9564 1000 or visit our website


*We sincerely thank Milly and Justin (name changed) and their families for allowing us to tell their stories)

**(The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission report (2012) “Desperate Measures: The Relinquishment of Children with Disability into State Care in Victoria)



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The Tipping Foundation 1036 Dandenong Road

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Yes, as soon as your donation is processed.

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