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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
'Double blow' for autistic pupils
National Autistic Society campaigner Jane Asher and children in  Downing Street
Report is part of an ongoing campaign, Make Schools Make Sense
Children with autism who are from ethnic minorities face a double discrimination in education, campaigners say.

A National Autistic Society report on "the reality for families" suggests 62% of parents had no choice over the school their children would attend.

Parents were much less satisfied with their child's academic and social progress than White British parents.

The government said meeting the needs of autistic children was "a priority".

Parental perceptions are that their children lost out because of the sort of unwitting racism identified in a recent Department for Education and Skills report.

Joan Nelson, whose son is black and has autism, told the society she believed ethnicity had a significant impact on the level and type of education he was given.

"There appeared to be more of a belief that my child was bad as opposed to having special needs," she said.

Black boys were penalised because their special needs meant they had difficulty accessing appropriate education, because they were Black, and because they were boys, she said.

"This hinders them in achieving what they should in today's system."

Training

Legally all children have the right to access a full education.

National Autistic Society officer Prithvi Perepa said: "All children must be able to access appropriate support and a range of educational provision in order that their individual needs are met."

Among other recommendations, the report says schools must address bullying on the basis of race and disability explicitly in their anti-bullying procedures.

There should be cultural awareness training for staff - including speech therapists, who needed to be aware of how to work with children whose first language was not English.

The report is being launched on Monday at a conference in London which is part of the national Autistic Society's ongoing campaign to pressurise councils and the government to improve the quality of education for autistic children.

Autistic spectrum disorders formed the largest single group in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal cases in 2005-06, its annual report reveals: 23% of the 3,410 appeals registered.

Awareness

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the government saw meeting the needs of all children with autistic spectrum disorders as a priority.

"We agree that all children with autism should have access to good quality provision and we will continue to work with the NAS and others in the autism field to achieve further improvements in provision," he said.

Research the department had published last year found that children from ethnic minority groups were no more likely to be identified with autism than white British pupils.

The government wanted a range of provision for children with special educational needs.

He added: "We agree with the NAS that teachers need greater awareness and understanding of how best to meet these children's needs and we are developing an autism pack for schools".




SEE ALSO
Autism gene breakthrough hailed
19 Feb 07 |  Health
Black pupils 'are treated worse'
02 Mar 07 |  Education
Minister vows autism cash review
16 Sep 06 |  Education
Calls for better autism schooling
23 May 06 |  Education
School inclusion 'can be abuse'
16 May 06 |  Education
Autism
03 Mar 05 |  Medical notes

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