Autistic children suffer bullying in Hertfordshire

TRACKS Autism charity logo

TRACKS Autism charity logo - Credit: Archant

Children with autism face high levels of bullying in Hertfordshire schools, according to a new survey.

Autism group HARC, the Hertfordshire branch of the National Autistic Society, carried out the poll, which it said found 59 per cent of respondents said they had been bullied.

The figure rose to 70% of children with “high-functioning autism” and Asperger’s syndrome – a form of autism.

The survey asked parents of children with autism in Hertfordshire about their experiences of education provision and found that, of those who responded, 29% of children with autism had been excluded from school.

One in 10 parents felt educational provision for children with autism was adequate.

Susanne Lace, branch officer for HARC said: “These findings are deeply disturbing. Children with autism can be particularly vulnerable to bullying because of the difficulties they have forming social relationships.”

“The current system of supporting children with autism in education in Hertfordshire is failing badly.”

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Mike Shaw, a trustee at TRACKS Autism, a specialist nursery in Stevenage for children aged between two and six, said: “The level of support provided, particularly as children get older seems to diminish.

“Parents and families deserve better but it’s a bigger issue than just for Stevenage or Hertfordshire, it’s about the government recognising this and providing more support.”

Councillor Chris Hayward, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are committed to providing high quality provision for children and young people with autistic spectrum conditions.

“The majority of children and young people with an autistic spectrum condition attend mainstream schools which already receive expert support, advice and training from the county council.

“All schools have anti-bullying policies to ensure any incidents which might arise will be dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner. If parents have any concerns about bullying these should be discussed with the school.”

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