Empowering the child or young person with autism
Within Northern Ireland, the prevalence rate for those with autism has been found to be 2·3% in 2015/16, Publication of ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2016’ Date published: 16 June 2016. For Further reading click here.
- Northern Ireland 2011 Census Population 1 811 000, using this figure, this would equate to 41 653 individuals, across all age ranges, with autism.
In the Republic of Ireland in a recent study, carried out by the NCSE, published July 2016 gives a prevalence rate of 1.5%, for further reading click here.
- Republic of Ireland 2013 Census Population 4 595 000, using this figure, this would equate to 68 925 individuals with autism
With this number of individuals with autism, and awareness of the intrinsic difficulties experienced by this group of people, we need to develop strategies so that the child or young person is not left in “his or her own world”, but that the children and young people have the support and interventions where they can positively see their position within the school, the community and society, where they are included in all walks of life. As the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education states, Inclusion in education involves:
- Putting inclusive values into action.
- Viewing every life and every death as of equal worth.
- Supporting everyone to feel that they belong.
- Increasing participation for children and adults in learning and teaching activities, relationships, and communities of local schools.
- Reducing exclusion, discrimination, barriers to learning and participation.
- Restructuring cultures, policies, and practices to respond to diversity in ways that value everyone equally.
- Linking education to local and global realities.
- Learning from the reduction of barriers for some children to benefit children more widely.
- Viewing differences between children and between adults as resources for learning.
- Acknowledging the right of children to an education of high quality in their locality.
- Improving schools for staff and parents/carers as well as children.
- Emphasising the development of school communities and values, as well as achievements.
- Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and surrounding communities.
- Recognising that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society. For further reading click here.
We must appreciate that the children and young people deserve the chance and must be offered all relevant interventions and strategies to be the best that they can possibly be, including knowing what, when, how, from whom and where to access this support.