This post is reproduced with kind permission from the National Autistic Society
Half of all children with autism wait over a year for appropriate educational support, and over a quarter have waited more than two years, finds a new report by The National Autistic Society, published today.
The report launches our Great Expectations campaign on Special Education Needs (SEN), which aims to inform and influence the Government’s proposed overhaul of the SEN system.
Children should expect an education that sets them up for life, yet our research, with over 1,000 parents of children with autism and young people with autism themselves, found that far too many children with autism are not getting the education they need and deserve. Our research found:
- just half of parents (52%) feel their child is making good educational progress
- 30% of parents feel that their child's educational placement is not adequate
- 43% of young people feel teachers don’t know enough about autism.
This whole experience has been utterly destructive for the family. An ongoing, uphill daily battle, trying to help a child who is becoming increasingly socially isolated.
Parent of a child with autism
Parents should expect an education system that works with, not against, them, but too many parents have to fight the system to make it work.
- 7 out of 10 parents say it has not been easy to get the educational support their child needs.
- 47% of parents say their child’s special educational needs were not picked up in a timely way.
- 48% of parents say they have waited over a year to get the right support for their child, and 27% have waited more than two years.
- 18% of parents have had to take legal action to get the right support for their children, and have been to tribunal an average of 3.5 times each.
Parents told us that while they waited and fought for the right support, their child’s educational progress (70%), mental health (60%), behaviour (68%) and self-esteem all suffered enormously.
It’s really hard to go to school. People don’t understand how hard it is. They judge me for doing things I can’t help.
Young person with autism
Mark Lever, NAS Chief Executive, says: “We have Great Expectations that the necessary changes to the education system can, and will, be made. It is completely unacceptable that so many parents are still fighting a daily battle for their fundamental right to get an education for their child.
"The Government rightly recognises that action is needed, and that they need to reform a system which continues to let many children with autism down.
"Our report sets out the practical, often simple, steps that the Government can take to create a system that works for everyone. The proposed ‘biggest SEN reform in 30 years’, will shape the future of a generation of children with autism. Let’s get it right.”
Our campaign will be launched in Parliament this evening at a reception expected to attract around 80 MPs, including the Disability Minister, Maria Miller and Shadow Education Secretary, Andy Burnham.
We need your help
You can support our Great Expectations campaign by emailing your MP to ask them to raise these issues in parliament. To find out more about the campaign, and other ways you can get involved, visit our campaign homepage.
Our key recommendations
An education that sets children up for life and a system that works with, not against, parents.
Children with autism expect:
- to get the support they need quickly and easily, regardless of whether they have a statement or EHCP
- teachers who understand how to support them and who have easy access to autism specialists for help.
Parents of children with autism expect:
- to have robust, simple ways to challenge the system if their child doesn’t get the support they need
- local authorities to have a thorough understanding of the needs of children with autism in their area, and to plan provision accordingly
- to be equal partners in the system and genuinely involved in decisions about their child’s education and the planning of local services
- local information that empowers them to make the right decisions for their child.
We expect the Government to listen and to act.
Let’s work together. Let’s get it right.
To read the full report please visit www.autism.org.uk/greatexpectations
She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
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