As many as 20,000 children with autism have been ‘illegally’ excluded from school, a charity has claimed.
Amongst the measures cited by Ambitious About Autism are sending the youngsters home early; reducing their weekly lessons and telling them not to come into school at all on certain significant days such as the beginning of school trips or when exams are being held. These exclusions are illegal without proper authorisation.
The figure represents nearly half of all autistic children in the UK.
The charity claims teachers take such action against autistic children because they “cannot cope with their behaviour”. It surveyed 745 families across the UK.
Rates of permanent exclusion from school are four times higher for youngsters diagnosed with autism, they found, and a third of head teachers said they knew of at least one child who had been excluded from school without the correct paperwork being in place.
The charity claims:
“Not only do children with autism miss out on vital school time because of illegal exclusions, but by going unrecorded or reported the scale of the problem is hidden, making it harder for families to stand up for their children’s rights.”
Meanwhile, close to 75 per cent of all parents said they found the process of finding the right school for them so stressful that they had lost sleep – while 80 per cent of the children themselves said they found school an anxiety-inducing experience.