Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

Week 6: Family life and education


This week considers the experiences and challenges of family life when one or more family members is autistic. The discussion starts with autistic children, considering initial experiences within the family, as well as the changes that occur as children grow and develop. The focus then moves to support for families and options for education. However, as you will see, access to these options is not evenly distributed across all families and groups. And beyond countries such as the UK, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs), families may struggle to get any support or education for their child.

Now watch the video in which Dr Ilona Roth introduces this week’s work.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_aut_1_video_week6_intro.mp4
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This week, you'll be looking at how autism affects family life, as well as the options for education and the challenge that it may pose for an autistic child. You've already heard from a number of parents. And though their experience is vary, few, if any, would deny that having an autistic child can pose challenges for their families. Yet something that I find shines out from these accounts by parents is their positivity and resilience.
You'll learn about some of the sources of stress and how families tackle them at different life stages. Multiplex families, where there's more than one family member on the autism spectrum, often have their own special coping mechanisms. In countries like the UK, various sources of health and support are available to families. For instance, the National Autistic Society offers a programme and help line for parents. However, accessing these and similar services may be difficult for families, especially if there are language or cultural barriers.
The rest of this week deals with education. You will be reflecting on some of the difficulties that autistic children may face in school and learning about the statutory support for education available in the UK nations. Different options for schooling cover a range from mainstream to residential to education at home. You'll hear why Arabella decided to educate Iris Grace at home. But as with everything else concerning autism, no one solution is right for all.
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By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • appreciate different ways in which family life may be affected when one or more family members is autistic

  • understand how challenges for the family and for the individual with autism change over the course of development

  • be aware of some of the sources of support available to families in the UK

  • appreciate the psychological, academic and social challenges posed by education, and the main choices available in terms of schooling

  • understand the rationale for different educational choices, including home education.


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