The Autism Spectrum is the collective term for a range of conditions that impact on the development, learning, processing and perceptions of individuals. People with autism tend to have a wide range of skill sets including different strengths and difficulties, however autism is characterised by people typically finding challenges with aspects of understanding social communication, social interaction and social imagination / flexible thinking. People with autism also tend to share common traits such as sensory processing difficulties, special interests, and some may have repetitive and stereotyped behaviours. Many can have significant difficulties with sleeping, eating, toileting and personal hygiene.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can occur in association with any level of general intellectual/ learning ability, ranging from subtle problems of understanding or processing of information, impaired social function to severe disabilities (SIGN 98) It is a condition in which there are also impacts from the environment and sometimes from the stresses of daily life. Whilst certain areas of daily life can be a challenge it is important to build on each pupil’s unique strengths and learning styles.
As autism is a lifelong condition its impact is likely to change throughout a person’s lifetime. While they often share common features, every pupil with autism is unique. Each has particular strengths and individual requirements for support to enhance their wellbeing, improve life skills and self-esteem. The key to providing this support lies in taking the time to get to know them, understanding their difficulties and how they impact on learning and behaviour.
Recent studies suggest that the prevalence of autism spectrum in the U.K. is about one in 100. Estimates of male/female ratio can vary, usually around 4:1. However, there appears to be a steady increase in the number of females referred. (Gould J and Ashton Smith J, 2011). Within our multicultural and diverse population there are a number of young people with autism who have English as an additional language.
It is likely that almost every school in Scotland will have at least one child with autism.
In 2014, there were 10805 pupils with ASD (almost 1.6% of the total pupil population).
1720 female, 9085 male (about 1:5)
(Scottish Government's Pupil Census Supplementary Data, 2014)