Parents fault teachers on autism awareness

Parents fault teachers on autism awareness

Parents fault teachers on autism awareness

By KATE WALSH

Oct. 9, 2013, 5:03 a.m.

Two-thirds of parents with a teenager with autism spectrum disorder don’t believe educators are well informed about the condition, a report from Autism Spectrum Australia has found.

The We Belong Too report, released today, found teenagers with ASD needed more support in the classroom dealing with issues such as stress and bullying.

It surveyed 100 students aged between 12 and 17 on the high-functioning end of the ASD spectrum and 65 parents of a teenager with ASD. Most children in the survey attended mainstream schools.

Almost three-quarters of the students said they had difficulty concentrating in class and over 60 per cent said they needed more support completing their homework and in-class work.

While only 49 per cent of parents thought their child needed more support developing concentration skills, 66 per cent didn’t think teachers knew enough about ASD.

Dr Debra Costley, director of Aspect Practice for Autism Spectrum Australia and lead researcher on the report, said it was surprising how open students were about needing extra assistance.

“I was hoping things would have improved with this group because we have done a lot of work with school teachers and schools to give them information and support, so to find young people are still telling us they are struggling in schools is quite interesting,” she said.

“That’s why it’s really important to ask these students what their views are, because if we just asked their parents we would get a different answer.”

Stress was the number one mental health concern for the students and more than half said they needed extra help to deal with bullying and discrimination. Close to 60 per cent said they needed more support making friends, but a common comment was that their friendships were the best part of school.

Bruce Rowles, principal at Aspect South Coast School, said while he wasn’t surprised teenagers with ASD wanted more assistance in and out of the classroom, mainstream schools worked hard to provide all students with a supportive environment.

 

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