The trouble with grouping conditions under one umbrella …


Consideration relating to this article – 

Diagnostic labels are either accepted as a signpost; giving a fuller explanation of child or adult condition/behaviours/symptoms/additional physical or medical needs, sometimes necessary in order to be able to apply for a statement to gain additional support in mainstream schools, to access special schools or assistance in the community; OR labels seem to trigger negative feedback from those who lack understanding, misguided information, hostility, discrimination in the form of stereotyping, for instance: Aspergers = Rainman/high intelligence/no eye contact OR PDA/PDD-NOS = Naughty child syndrome, strong minded OR Classic = Unable to communicate, lack of emotions. 

I have worked in main stream schools, some who have worked hard to strive for inclusion of all types of children with additional educational needs. Sometimes with a successful outcome, but more times I witnessed inclusion not working positively for not only the child, but impacting on other children in the classroom, stressed teachers, and further distress on the family when the school placement breaks down. 

Trouble with grouping the large spectrum of autism under the one umbrella, is that a child with a diagnosis of ASD may be completely different from another child with ASD and will require different strategies in order to meet their differing needs.

My concerns are, and I give an example of a teacher (from either mainsteam or special needs school) with two children in her class, one is a girl and one is a boy, both have a diagnosis of ASD. The teacher recognises some stereotypical signs in the boy which she decides is probably Aspergers, but the girl behaves very differently from the boy, and struggles to engage in class, is disruptive and appears very defiant, the teacher decides that this girl probably isn’t ASD (after-all she gives eye contact) – UNLESS the teacher has full training of ALL of the categories and sub-categories of autism, she will quite naturally make up her own mind as to who is really autistic and who is simply being naughty, regardless of the child’s diagnosis or requirements of statement.

Many teachers in mainstream schools have too many pressures already placed upon them, with high numbers of children per class, attaining good grades for Ofsted inspections /reports/paperwork/governments on-going changing of exam systems etc. It’s no wonder that so many schools are getting it wrong for so many children with additional needs (I AM NOT SAYING ALL SCHOOLS!)

It saddens me to say, “Without FULL understanding of the autistic spectrum, grouping ASD under one umbrella will cause further confusion and exclusion”.



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