Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Tough Choices on Autism

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Tough Choices on Autism

Article excerpt

The medical model of disability takes the position that the disability itself is the problem. The social model suggests that the problem lies with a society that doesn't always make necessary adjustments to meet the needs of everyone, including people who have a disability.

The world should accommodate everyone's needs and give an equal chance to all. But it doesn't. This is especially true when the disability can't be easily detected, when it affects how a person sees the world rather than how the world sees them.

College support systems do everything that they can to make learning and college life accessible to everyone, but sometimes, I wonder if some aspects of support go too far. If wraparound support amounts to wrapping students in cotton wool, it risks enabling behaviours that may not be greeted with such compassion in the world outside.

I've seen countless young people in mainstream curriculums who have autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and I've adjusted my own planning and behaviour to offer the most inclusive environment that I can. Of course, autism, like many other less visible disabilities, has some common behavioural themes, but I learned early on that if there are 200 people with autism, then there are 200 different types of autism.

What I struggle with is how much I should alter my expectations of students. In a sector which prides itself on preparing young people for the world of work, am I doing my students a disservice by allowing them to believe that their particular needs and behaviours will be accommodated in the future? …

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