From education to employment

World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day on the 2nd of April every year. It encourages everyone to take measures to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autistic individuals.

Over the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education generally, as well as for persons with autism specifically.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic happened, a majority of countries announced the temporary closure of schools, impacting more than 90% of students worldwide. This disruption in learning has reversed years of progress and has exacerbated inequalities in education.

Many students with autism have been especially hard hit and studies show that they have been disproportionately affected by disruptions to routines, as well as services and supports that they rely on.

Sector Response

Natalie Arnett, Senior Equalities Officer for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“NAHT would like to take a moment to celebrate the achievements of those individuals with ASD, many of whom are working and leading in our schools.

“A growing number of children and young people are being diagnosed as autistic, with Special Educational Needs data suggesting that 1.8% of all pupils in England now have an autism diagnosis. It is therefore vital that these children and young people are effectively supported in order to achieve their full potential.

“Schools already work incredibly hard to support the needs of all children, and create inclusive cultures where all children and young people feel valued and included.

“However, while the national strategy for autistic children, young people and adults (released last year) and the SEND Review (released earlier this week), contain some helpful proposals to improve the system for individuals with ASD, the bottom line is that we need to make sure each part of the sector has the resources, both now and in the longer-term, to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND, and ensure they are able to access the specialists they need at the earliest possible opportunity. That is ultimately what will make the biggest difference, and be the true change for autistic children and young people that the strategies aim for.”

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