As if autism weren’t hard enough to identify, a U.K. study has recently discovered that children with autism were being punished and excluded for their aggressive behaviors prior to diagnosis. Most of the children were thought to have had rude behavior, when they really were afflicted with autism. As a result almost 4,000 school children had been excluded from class.
Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, The Institute of Child Health, at University College London conducted the study involving researchers that asked teachers in 16 primary schools to evaluate 26 students who were identified as detrimental, and as a result, cast away from the classroom. After collecting the data, parents were interviewed and tested to determine if the children could indeed be diagnosed with autism.
David Skuse, professor of neuroscience, who led the study, said, “Teachers should be supported to identify these children before they are unfairly excluded from school, and miss out on the education and learning opportunities they deserve.”
After the diagnoses showed that almost a third of the misbehaving children were diagnosed with autism, the study concluded that these “bad behaviors” are actually symptoms of autism.
The study also lead to the idea of establishing Swedish-style “free schools,” which are run by parents. These are thought to empower parents to identify autism early on through careful and thoughtful supervision.