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More speech therapy support needed for Welsh autistic pupils

Tuesday 16th May 2017
More support from speech and language therapists is needed in Welsh schools to cope with the growing number of pupils on the autistic spectrum. Image: bowdenimages via iStock
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There has been a marked rise in the number of autistic children attending school in Wales over the past few years, increasing the need for additional support from speech and language therapists in the country's schools.

New statistics published by the Welsh government show that there has been an increase of more than 50 per cent in the number of schoolchildren who fall onto the autistic spectrum since 2011.

Five years ago, records showed that there were 3,450 autistic children attending school in the country, but this had risen to 5,325 by 2016.

The majority of this increase was across the nation's primary schools, where the number of four to 11-year-olds who fell onto the autistic spectrum rose from 1,290 to 2,055 over the five-year period.

However, research carried out by the National Autistic Society (NAS) Cymru has found that the level of provision available for these children has not risen in line with pupil numbers, meaning many may be being held back from reaching their full potential both academically and socially due to a lack of support.

Speaking to BBC News, Meleri Thomas of NAS Cymru explained: "Four in five parents who responded to an NAS Cymru survey said their child received additional support at school because of their autism through school action, school action plus or a statement.

"However, only two children in five whose parents responded said they were receiving all the support and provisions outlined in their statement or education plan."

As a result, it is evident that more support from speech and language therapists is needed in Welsh schools to ensure that children who fall onto the autistic spectrum are receiving all of the help they require for their individual needs to prevent them from falling behind academically.

This type of support is also essential in helping children with autistic spectrum disorder to communicate with both their peers and their teachers.

Written by Martin Lambert

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