Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What Is Happening For Our Autistic Teens?

The results from recent surveys in Australia show that the number of people with autism spectrum disorder has been constantly growing for the last 15 years. Nowadays 1 in 100 people under 18 is diagnosed with autism, which means that 230,000 people in Australia have the disorder. However, although the statistics are disturbing, recent research carried out by Aspect shows that not much is done for the personal development and realisation of people with autism.

The results of the research raise a number of questions about what will happen with the following generations of autistic Australians. One of the main problem for autistic teens is related to education – 70 out of the 100 surveyed adolescents with autism report that they are not receiving a proper education answering their needs. The main problem seems to be that tutors and teachers are not aware of the needs of autistic students, which results in the inability of the students to concentrate in class, to pay attention to the teachers and to understand them, to prepare for lessons and exams, to do their homework and to cope with the assignments in class.

Another aspect of the life of autistic teens in Australia appears to be loneliness and depression. The research shows that 69% of the teens feel lonely and almost the same per cent need more support when dealing with depression and stress. Their parents are of the same opinion; about half of the surveyed parents of teens with autism pointed out that their children need more support to deal with their mental conditions. A lot of attention should be paid to bullying and discrimination, too. According to the experts, children with autism are more likely to be bullied than those without the condition. It is really important to pay attention to the need for more ASD-friendly groups for sports and hobbies.

If we do not make more effort and take immediate measures for the well-being of autistic children and teens, their future is clear. Previous research by Aspect shows that only 54% from all fit-to-work autistic adults in Australia are in paid employment. On the other hand, the surveys show that teens with autism look for a job or study and want to become well-trained professionals. For now, given the current study and career support for ASD individuals, many of them are unlikely to succeed in continuing their education or starting work.

In short, while the number of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Australia grows, not much is done to facilitate their lives and give them equal educational and career opportunities. If that doesn’t change, however, people with autism (currently about 230,000 in Australia) will be unable to find a suitable education course or even to graduate from high school, which lowers their chances to start a paid job and thus making it hard for them to lead a normal life.

We need to make ourselves heard on this issue for all our sakes.

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