Learning about Autism: Autism Awareness Month

Autism is a condition which means a person’s brain works differently to other people’s and affects the way they experience the world around them.

The term Autism does not refer to one specific condition but instead refers to a wider group of conditions (Autism spectrum). At least one in 100 children in the UK has an autism spectrum condition (ASC).

Children may have problems with communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought. This can affect how children make sense of the world around them and relate to other people. Diagnosis can take a long time, and often follows a period of uncertainty in a child’s early years.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) develop at a different rate and don’t necessarily develop skills in the same order as typically developing children.

  • Children with ASD can find it hard to pay attention to others, communicate, understand other perspectives, and see the big picture. These challenges affect learning and development.
  • When you understand your child’s areas of challenge, you can find the best ways to help your child learn.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) develop at a different rate and don’t necessarily develop skills in the same order as typically developing children.

For example, children with ASD might start to use a few single words around 12 months of age. They might not have the explosion of language that other children have, perhaps learning only a couple of new words each month. It might take them until they’re three years old, or older, to start combining these words together into short phrases.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) don’t tune into other people in the same way as typically developing babies and children.

For example, children with ASD might not respond to their names, make eye contact, smile at caregivers, or wave goodbye without being told to. Children with ASD also might not use eye contact or point with their fingers to get your attention or communicate.

Using eye contact and gestures to share experiences with others is called joint attention (or shared attention). Children with ASD often have difficulty in this area.

Like a learning disability, autism is a lifelong condition. Autism is sometimes referred to as a spectrum, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is not a learning disability, but around half of autistic people may also have a learning disability.

  • Around 40% of autistic people have a learning disability, compared with just 1% of people without autism
  • Around 1 in 10 people with a learning disability are autistic
  • 3 in 10 autistic people speak few or no words

Autism can present many challenges to a child’s daily life. In particular, it can impact how they engage with their learning at school. Your position as a teacher gives you the perfect opportunity to help them overcome these barriers and get the most out of their education.

Around 70% of children with autism spectrum disorders in the UK attend mainstream primary schools. The problem is that many mainstream schools are unequipped to provide the support that autistic children need. In fact, according to the National Autism Society and Ambitious About Autism, 60% of teachers in England do not feel that they’ve received adequate training to teach children with autism.

A poor classroom environment for autism can hugely disadvantage children with the condition. Most notably, it can cause them difficulty with engaging in learning activities and coping with daily life. What’s more, is that these issues can have a lasting impact on them.

Find the perfect tutor for your child on Sherpa Online, with tutors qualified in teaching students dealing with SEN here.



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23rd April

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