4.2 Mainstream and other educational choices
Some mainstream schools have a unit attached that autistic pupils can attend for part of the day. This may be for particular lessons or to provide a safe place during breaks and lunchtimes.
If a child is receiving interventions such as
Some children’s behaviour may require a highly structured environment throughout the day, such that the only option is a
G is now 17 with very limited language and attends a special school. He seems happy and well-liked by teachers and peers; he is sociable, affectionate and has a sense of humour. He cannot live independently, but with support is able to dress himself, shower, use the washing machine, dishwasher and help with cooking – he loves food. He bounces like Tigger when we are out and about (drawing attention to himself), but now goes to the gym and enjoys running and swimming.
Places at special schools and residential schools are limited and are only available to those children with an EHCP, CSP or Statement of SEN. In the late 20th century there was a move away from special schools, towards placing as many children as possible in mainstream settings. The emphasis on ‘inclusion’ reflects the belief that it is better for autistic children to be educated alongside neurotypical children in their community, thus being involved in all the social and academic activities that other children experience.
Sadly, despite the advantages of mainstream school, many autistic children do not feel included, lack friends and may not achieve their academic or vocational potential. As you have learned throughout this module, autism is highly heterogeneous: in education (as with so many other areas of life) a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work. It is essential that the individual needs of the child are considered, and that the right education context is found.