Autistic children from ethnic minorities 'face double discrimination in education'|
LONDON, UK: Children with autism who are from ethnic minorities face a double discrimination in education, British campaigners say.
A National Autistic Society report on "the reality for families" suggests that 62 per cent 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 that 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 NAS that 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."
Legally all children have the right to access a full education.
A 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.
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."
(Source: BBC News Online, April 16, 2007)