Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bullying of autistic students 'ignored'

MORE than half of all students with autism are being bullied at school every week, but angry parents claim teachers are not doing enough to stamp it out.

The shock finding follows interviews with 1700 families on school satisfaction levels.

A report to be released today by the Parent Autism Education Committee shows 70 per cent of parents do not believe schools are taking enough action on bullying of students with disabilities.

Frustrated parents have also complained some teachers do not accept disability and have accused individuals of behaving poorly towards their autistic sons and daughters.

Between 54 and 70 per cent of parents did not believe schools were doing enough to address their child's academic difficulties, communication, sensory needs, behavioural problems, physical wellbeing, mental health, bullying or social difficulties.

A total of 2500 South Australians are registered with Autism SA, including 1500 of school age.

Chief executive John Martin said yesterday findings on child safety in educational settings were disturbing, as was a high incidence of students being sent home or suspended.

Fifty-nine per cent of parents reported seeing a GP about stress, anxiety or depression.

Sixty-three per cent of parents said they were not regularly given any resources to reinforce learning goals at home, and 36 per cent did not consider themselves "adequately informed" about their child's progress.

Thirty-five per cent of parents with children in government schools were "concerned" or "very concerned" about their child's education.

Of those surveyed, 38 per cent said they had been forced to take their children home from school early because of behavioural issues.

Australian Education Union president Andrew Gohl said it was "a strong argument" for increased staff and resources.

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said the Government had provided more than $6 million this year to support the special needs of SA school students with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.

She said the Government was "committed to supporting students with disabilities".
The Advertiser: Bullying of autistic students 'ignored' [23nov05]

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