Updates from The National Autistic Society

The School Exclusions Service

The School Exclusions Service offers advice and information to parents of children and young people with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) on all aspects of school exclusion in England. This includes advice on informal (illegal) exclusions; fixed-period and permanent exclusions; how to challenge your child’s exclusion and what you can do if you are concerned that your child is at risk of exclusion. In the academic year 2010-11, 2,480 pupils with ASD received one or more fixed period exclusions. The most common reasons given were ‘Physical assault against a pupil’ (20%), ‘Verbal abuse/threatening behaviour against an adult’ (20%), ‘Physical assault against an adult’ (19%) and ‘Persistent disruptive behaviour’ (19%).
However, in some cases behaviour associated with this hidden disability can be confused with disobedience because of a lack of awareness of the condition and a lack of empathy with the individual. Sometimes a pupil with ASD, trying to cope with school life can go into meltdown - the bewildering bombardment of instructions and demands; the deluge of sensory stimuli; the struggle to keep up with the flow of social interaction that comes naturally to those around them – can prove too much and anxiety can build to stress and ultimately to aggression. Headteachers may feel that exclusion is the only solution in order to maintain the safety and well-being of other pupils. Indeed it may be the case that a mainstream school is not the most appropriate setting for a particular child. However, disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs and schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices to ensure that pupils with ASD also feel safe, confident and able to experience success. How to use our School Exclusions ServiceCall our Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 (Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm). The Helpline will take details of your query and arrange a telephone appointment for you with our Exclusions Adviser, who will call you back at the agreed time to discuss your query in detail. Email your enquiry toschoolexclusions@nas.org.uk. It would be helpful if you could provide as much detail as possible regarding your enquiry. We aim to reply within 5 working days. Please note that it may take us longer than this if our Exclusions Advisor is away.

  A man from Bolton has been able to access a diagnostic assessment for autism as a result of the Autism Act.

Matthew, 35, had shown signs of autism throughout his life but had never been able to access an assessment. Without a diagnosis, Matthew was struggling to access the support he needed.

His family contacted Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who wrote to the NHS in Bolton, arguing that their policy was discriminatory and went against the Autism Act statutory guidance, which sets out that every area in England should have a pathway to diagnosis for adults with suspected autism.

Subsequently, NHS Bolton offered Matthew an assessment, which found that he had Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. Matthew has since been offered support in the community. So, thanks to the Autism Act, he has been able to access the support he needs. NHS Bolton has also checked its policy on autism, and a pathway for diagnosis is now in place.

Getting a diagnosis can be crucially important: not only can it give access to the right support, but it can help people to understand why they may never have quite 'fitted in'. However, research carried out by The National Autistic Society (NAS) as part of our Push for Action campaign has shown that only 63 out of 152 local authorities
in England have an autism diagnosis pathway in place. 

  Today the government announced that 93 new free schools are opening their doors this month. Amongst them is Thames Valley School, which is being sponsored by the NAS. The school will open on 16 September and it will provide places for up to 50 children aged 4 to 16 who have been diagnosed with autism (including Asperger syndrome). Thames Valley School will enable students to overcome their barriers to learning, develop social skills and coping strategies, and learn to manage their own behaviour. The school will also aim high when it comes to its pupils’ academic achievements, hoping for as many pupils as possible to achieve 5 A*-C at GCSE including English and maths.

Fiona Veitch, Principal of Thames Valley School, said:

"We’re delighted to be opening a new free school for young people with autism in Reading and the surrounding area. It was clear from the overwhelming support we received from local parents, schools and groups at the start of this project that Thames Valley School is very much needed in this region.  Autism is a lifelong and disabling condition, but with the right support, people with autism can flourish. My staff team and I are looking forward to working with parents and the wider community to help our pupils achieve their goals and fulfil their potential.”




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