More than a million students across the UK are on the autism spectrum, with one in three students classified as having autism.
But for some, the learning experience is often stressful, with some experiencing social isolation, poor academics, anxiety and isolation from peers.
In the UK, more than 4.4 million people have autism, and more than one in five students with the condition is in school.
Here, we examine how schools can help to alleviate some of the stress and loneliness experienced by some students.
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder where a person’s ability to understand and communicate with others differs from their peers.
There are several different forms of autism.
Some children are born with autism, while others develop it as they grow older.
Some people with autism are more likely to be diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome (AS), while others are not.
In autism spectrum conditions (ASD), a child has difficulty in social interaction, social cognition and communication skills.
The condition can be diagnosed by their parents or teachers.
How can schools help?
As a parent, you can help your child or teenager understand how their learning is impacting their school environment.
This can include teaching the child about the differences between the types of learning they can do in their class, or what makes a good teacher.
You can also support them to develop a strong understanding of the classroom.
You could even help them to understand the meaning of class time.
Teaching them to read and write can be challenging and could be difficult for them to learn.
If they can read, then they can write, and you can give them an opportunity to develop their writing skills.
If the child has limited language skills, you could provide support with language arts activities and playgroups.
This would help them with reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary and grammatical skills.
Helping children develop their academic skills in the classroom also has important implications for the wider school community.
Children with autism often struggle with understanding and expressing their feelings, as well as coping with the impact of social isolation.
Teaching children to understand that other people might be uncomfortable in the same space, as it’s not always safe to be alone in a classroom, can also help to ease the stress.
Help with learning can also be delivered in the context of a school, with a variety of different activities for children to try, including language arts, art and sports.
Where can schools get more help?
The National Autistic Society’s School of Education supports schools in the UK with a range of resources.
You may be able to apply for free online support through the National Autistics Self Help Centre (NASS) website or through a free online tutor service (such as the UK’s National Autism Service).
In the meantime, you may also be able try to find an accredited tutor to help your student or tutor at a local school.
Your local school is also well equipped to provide a range and quality support, including a free library, computer and supplies.
The National Autism Service (NASC) is an independent body that is based in the West Midlands.
It provides services to all children and young people with disabilities.
Find out more.
What can schools do to help autistic students?
Many schools will offer support to autistic students through a range or combination of services, including: teaching about autism and learning