Did you know this Sunday April 2 was World Autism Day? Sanctioned by the United Nations, World Autism Day marks the beginning of World Autism Month, which raises awareness of the approximately 1 in 54 people who are on the spectrum.
Autism is a type of neurodiversity. Those with autism may present with a diverse range of characteristics. According to the Autism NZ website, the condition may affect sensory, cognitive and social processing when compared with neurotypical individuals. However, every person with autism may present differently. Those with autism have unique traits, though their behaviours and needs may share similarities.
Read the Term 1 edition of School News HERE.
In children, autism may manifest as difficulty interacting socially. They may find small talk hard, or be unsure of social cues. This may lead children with autism to have trouble forming relationships with peers. They may also require strict routines, display repetitive movements or behaviours to process information, be hyper- or hypo- reactive to sensory stimulation, have intense and narrow interests, and may have a specific talent or ability.
The Ministry of Education notes that some autistic children may display strengths in visual and spatial skills, non-verbal problem solving and both visual and auditory memory. They may, however, need support with communication, interaction and information processing.
Te Kete Ipurangi has extensive resources for educators working with autistic children, and Autism NZ runs courses for educators looking to take PLD courses for working with autistic children.
Like all children, children with autism have specific support needs. With the right support, children with autism can thrive in the educational environment, and form long-lasting and fulfilling relationships with those around them.
Discover more about how you can support ākonga with autism from the Ministry of Disabled People, which has a best practice guide on supporting people with autism in Aotearoa.