Dr David Preece, Senior Lecturer at the University of Northampton shares his expert thoughts on autism awareness.
“Sunday April 2 is World Autism Day, and the week leading up to it is World Autism Awareness Week at School.
As an academic who’s worked with people with autism for about 30 years, I’m sharing a few thoughts about autism. This is particularly timely for me, as I’ve just got back from Zagreb, where the University of Northampton is working with European partners to develop parent training to support children with autism. As usually happens at conferences, a number of parents came up to me asking for advice and guidance about how to support their child, or how to manage their child’s behaviour.
I’m sure I disappoint parents when I tell them that without getting to know their child I don’t like to give anything other than general advice. But that is the truth, and it comes as a direct consequence of the nature of autism.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which can impact in a wide variety of ways; as Stephen Shore -a professor of Special Education who himself has autism — says, ‘If you’ve seen one person with autism…then you’ve seen one person with autism!’
Most of us will have, as autism now affects about one in a hundred children here in England. All will share characteristic difficulties and differences — problems regarding socialisation and communication, issues related to how their senses work, and difficulties with change. But all are individuals, with their own unique skills and interests. Understanding autism is important, but focusing on the individual, and how their autism affects them, is absolutely crucial.”
The University’s ASSIST team is on hand for support for any students with Autism.