Estimates tell us that around 1 in 100 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder - or ASD -which means there are children with an ASD in most schools, whether diagnosed or not. Children with ASD present with a variety of strengths, difficulties and sometimes behaviour issues. For these children the cause of behavioural difficulties usually relates to the core symptoms of autism not being appreciated, and suitable support and adaptions not being put into place.By adapting strong practice, a child with ASD will feel safer, less anxious and have an increased understanding of what is expected of them. This in turn will mean that the child is more likely to have increased attainment, improved behaviour and therefore is at a reduced risk of exclusion.
It is widely recognised that the methods used to support children with ASD can also benefit other children in the classroom.
All children with ASD have impairments in social communication, social interaction, social imagination and a preference for routines. Many have sensory issues and a restricted pattern of behaviours. It is important to remember that the way in which this affects a child varies, and strengths or weaknesses in one area are not necessarily accompanied by strengths or weaknesses in other areas.
For example, many children with higher functioning ASD have good or above average use of language. Having a complex vocabulary does not mean that the child will understand the same level of vocabulary, nor that the child understand the vocabulary that he or she is using. We shouldn’t forget the many positive attributes of children with an ASD. They often bring skills and knowledge that come from following a special interest, maybe showing close attention to detail, often picking up on things that others have missed. These abilities can be used to encourage engagement in school work, and enable them to make their own, unique contribution to school life.