More than 300,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum, and at least one in every 100 children. Evidence shows that mainstream schools can be very effective at including these children when staff have been trained and are knowledgeable about autism. Without that understanding, pupils with autism can be seen as difficult, naughty or challenging, and are then at risk of being bullied or excluded. In contrast, well supported pupils with autism can go on to achieve success in adult life with many entering further and higher education and employment.
The team at the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) focuses on the positive aspects of autism and aim to enhance the understanding of autism among practitioners working with this population. Without this understanding, the support and interventions used can be inappropriate and ineffective and children and adults with autism can then find life extremely challenging.
ACER has developed training materials and documents which make a very positive and real difference to the education and care of children and adults with autism. This includes several accredited teaching programmes for professionals and parents at different academic levels. The team has also created web-based resources for those working in the early years and with pupils aged five to 16 years.
Our research into autism is crucial and with your continued support, we can enhance and improve the quality of children’s lives and those of their families. Education is the most important intervention and if these children receive an effective and appropriate education, it can transform their lives as adults.
Dr Karen Guldberg (MEd Education, 2001; PGCert, 2003; PhD Education, 2008), Senior Lecturer in Autism and Director of the University’s Autism Centre for Education and Research explains: "Autism is not uncommon any more. There are a lot of people out there in need of specialist intervention through education which has been proven to make a real difference. What we do is encourage educators to look for the strengths and interests in every child. Viewing the world differently, as is the case in people with autism, often leads to insights, discoveries in science and to amazing creativity in the world of music and the arts."
As autism is a lifelong condition, ensuring that teaching staff and carers are equipped with the knowledge and tools to include children with autism into their classrooms and to provide them with the opportunity to thrive is crucial. Your support will help us to work with more teaching staff, parents and carers, and to provide more effective educational interventions to help children and young people with autism to achieve their full potential.
Marianne Seary’s (MSc Computer Science, 1998) son Edmund was diagnosed with autism when he was nine years old, but he had already been labelled as a ‘naughty boy’ in school and was always overlooked for after school playdates and birthday party invites. Marianne is a supporter of the University’s research as she recognises the impact it could have made to Edmund’s life: "I am passionate about the University’s research into the early diagnosis of autism and specialist educational interventions as it could have made a huge difference to my son and our family. Autism isn’t visible and therefore it is often overlooked and dismissed simply as bad behaviour. Every child deserves friends and a chance to succeed in life which is something the University’s researchers are working hard to make happen."
The University of Birmingham’s world-renowned researchers are working to identify better, more accurate methods of educating practitioners. We are pioneering technology enhanced learning using robots in classrooms, and are monitoring the impact of an international model for intervention.
Please give generously to make a difference to the lives of children with autism, their parents, carers and families and the professionals who work with them. To support our research in autism, and change lives forever, give today.
To discuss the ways in which you can support our ongoing research, please contact Laura Fairbanks [+44(0)121 414 8894].
To find out more about more about ACER, watch this video, read their story, or visit their website.
Hear Robin's story:
How autism affects children, adults, and their families...
There are over half a million people in the UK with autism
More than 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school
More than 50% of children with autism are not in the kind of school their parents think can best support them
1 in 5 children with autism has been excluded from school at some point
Only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment; 10% of adults with autism have had neither a job nor access to benefits for more than a decade