Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School, member of the SCSC, writes in the Edinburgh Evening News on World Autism Awareness Week:
This week marks World Autism Awareness Week, where campaigners will seek to raise further awareness of the condition and improve the lives of those affected by it.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is also much more common than most people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that’s more than one in 100. People from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds can be autistic, although it appears to affect more men than women.
The prevalence is currently rising in many countries around the world as we witness a dramatic increase in numbers of children with autism, particularly in the early years. This rise can be explained, in part, by improved public recognition of autism, improved clinical understanding and developments in diagnosis.
Awareness raising, such as through World Autism Awareness Week and the associated events that it generates, are to be welcomed as more and more people gain a better understanding of the condition and how we can support young people with autism.
However, there is much work still to be done. We are concerned, like many, at the level of cutbacks in services supporting those with autism, and while as an organisation we support a presumption to mainstream – that those with additional support needs such as autism be taught in mainstream classes – we have raised our worries over the amount of training and resources dedicated to this.
Teaching in as mainstream class may also not be right for every child, the alternative being to teach such pupils in specialist units within mainstream schools or in dedicated specialist schools such as our own. Ultimately the focus must be on the needs of the child or young person concerned.
So, whether it’s a walk or cycle, a cake sale, a quiz or other challenge, use this week to make it a better world for autistic people.
- Coalition calls for action as 11 per cent cut in additional support for learning revealed ( April 27, 2017 )
- Scottish Children’s Services Coalition launches its manifesto ahead of the council elections, warning of a ‘lost generation’ ( April 24, 2017 )
- Letter to the media – Ten-year mental health strategy welcome but it simply does not go far enough ( April 10, 2017 )
- Ray Brown, Spark of Genius – The importance of understanding how young people end up in care ( March 22, 2017 )
- ‘Postcode lottery’ as health boards fail to meet target for child mental health treatment ( March 7, 2017 )
- Letter to the media – Celebrate the lives and listen to the stories of care experienced young people this ‘Care Day’ ( February 17, 2017 )
- The number of pupils identified with autism, dyslexia and other conditions has increased dramatically, reinforcing call for greater support ( February 7, 2017 )
- Letter to the media – Children’s mental health week raises awareness ( February 6, 2017 )
- Duncan Dunlop, Who Cares? Scotland – A new beginning for our broken care system ( January 25, 2017 )
- Clearer guidance called for as major discrepancies between local authorities on numbers of those with additional support needs ( January 4, 2017 )
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