According to The National Autistic Society, there are about 700,000 people on the autistic spectrum in the UK, and a growing number of children with autistic spectrum conditions are finding themselves in mainstream education.
This worries many parents and teachers, but there are some great positives to including children in mainstream schools.
An integrated classroom means neuro-typical children gain a greater understanding of the autism spectrum and their peers with this condition. This often means children are not excluded or treated as something other to be feared or rejected.
Mainstream education opens children with autism spectrum conditions to a more rounded education that prepares them for adult life without the need for excessive shielding. Social interactions learned in the classroom and playground can prepare them for adult life.
It is not all plain sailing though. Children on the spectrum may find it difficult to adjust to mainstream classroom life and struggle to concentrate if they are sensory overloaded or if there are changes to routine or formal settings.
It can be especially difficult for children who are not aware of or who have not learned the social etiquette and subtle interactions of the classroom environment or children’s interpersonal interactions.
Some children with autistic spectrum conditions might benefit from, and be more suited to non-traditional methods of learning, and any difficulties that arise in the classroom may take time away from other children’s learning experiences and needs.
But what can be done?
When children are comfortable they will have more time to devote to learning – a more harmonious classroom leads to fewer disruptions.
Children learn better in a relaxed environment with creative learning techniques, and less stigma over individual children’s needs mean children are not seen as a problem.
Charlton Autism Training empowers and equips teachers to successfully tailor child-centred learning in integrated classrooms because we know happy children equals happy teachers and happy parents.