Autism diagnosis can cause other special needs to be ‘neglected’

Schools are struggling to support the rising numbers of pupils diagnosed with autism because the label means other learning needs can be “neglected”, parents and experts have told Schools Week.

The latest Department for Education (DfE) data shows a 25 per cent increase in autism diagnoses over the past four years. However, experts say the rise is a result of overly simplistic assessments of pupils by local authorities that leave out more specific issues related to speech, language, mobility and auditory problems.

Faced with a 40 per cent reduction in core government funding since 2010, councils are reluctant to pay for assessments by therapists, say SEND specialists, in case more expensive needs are identified.

School budgets are also squeezed with an 8 per cent real-terms fall expected by 2020, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Some parents are appealing council decisions and are funding their own assessments for their children, which can cost thousands of pounds.

Read Full Item
7th January 2017
Schools Week