The issue of education for individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions is a complex one. Some people with ASC’s have gone on to achieve the very highest standards within the education system, whereas some are so profoundly affected by their condition that education in the academic sense is not an option. Yet there are still opportunities for every individual with an Autism Spectrum Condition to learn, develop and grow.
All individuals who have a diagnosis of ASC a difficulty in three main areas of functioning. These are:
- Social Understanding
- Flexibility of thought
The severity of each of these difficulties affects each individually differently, creating a distinct set of abilities and challenges for each person. Two people with the same diagnosis will therefore have completely different skills and abilities and as such require different kinds of support to help them achieve.
For example an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome may be extremely intelligent and articulate, academically able to complete school and higher education. This person may still require a little support around understanding social interactions and some aspects of daily living.
Conversely, someone could be more profoundly affected by their ASC. They may be non verbal, have very limited social understanding and their lives could be dominated by structure and routine. This individual may be almost entirely reliant on others for all aspects of their daily lives.
How does this affect education?
Providing education for individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions is completely dictated to be the needs of each individual. Some may require support to access mainstream education, while others require education in daily living. Usually a combination of these two is required.
Common topics for all individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions include;
- Communication - Verbal and nonverbal.
- Literacy (where applicable)
- Empowerment and choice
- Social Interaction
- Self Care and Independence skills
- Awareness of danger and physical safety
- Understanding money and numbers
Speech and Language Therapy
Children and young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions have issues with communication and can benefit greatly from early intervention from a Speech and Language therapist. These professionals are skilled at developing all aspects of communication, verbal and nonverbal.
Speech Therapists may also suggest and implement the use of sign language as a supplement to any spoken language. They can also advise on and teach alternative forms of visual communication including storyboards and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System).
Positive Educational Support
Regardless of whether an individual with an Autism Spectrum Condition is learning an academic subject or daily living skills they will have difficulties in common areas. These include;
- Following Instructions
- Communicating Clearly
- Concentrating/Staying on task
- Understanding turn taking and social rules
- May have behavioural difficulties
In order to support individuals with these difficulties the following methods may be useful:
- Provide positive reinforcement
- Keep session time short and structured
- Ensure environment is quiet and stimulation free (where possible)
- Unambiguous and clear communication
- Give enough time to process information
- Use preferred means of communication
- Clear boundaries on behaviour
- Structured free time
How can we help?
The Practice in Milton Keynes has a specialist Autism Diagnostic Assessment Team (ADAT) providing assessments for adults and children. Led by our Principal Psychologist, Katherine Goodsell who has gained extensive experience in the field of autism diagnostic, assessment, intervention and support having worked for several private hospitals across London and Northampton.
We offer alongside our autism diagnostic assessments educational testing and assessment to explore an individual’s educational ability and to identify any specific learning difficulties that because of their ASC may not have been identified.
The Practice MK is also able to offer autism specific, psychological support, speech and language therapy, counselling, coaching and mentoring to those with an ASC and their family to help support and develop a person’s full potential.
All our psychologists are registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
For more information on our services please see our website, www.thepracticemk.co.uk