4428.0 - Autism in Australia, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/07/2011  First Issue
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Autism and Education AUTISM AND EDUCATION

School is an important social environment where children learn to interact with their peers – a task people diagnosed with autism generally find difficult. An appropriate school environment can provide opportunities to develop important social and life skills, however many children with autism need support throughout their education and beyond.

In 2009, 12% of children with autism attended school and did not experience any educational restrictions. Of the remaining 88% who did experience some restrictions, 3% of children were not able to attend school because of their disability and 47% needed to attend either a special class in a mainstream school, or a special school.

For children with autism who were attending school, 82% reported ‘having difficulty’ at school, the majority of whom had difficulty with communication, learning and fitting in socially (Graph 3).

Proportion of children aged 5 years and over with autism, by schooling restriction status and type of difficulty experienced at school

Children with autism need a high level of support to attend school, with 41% needing a counsellor or disability support person and 51% requiring special tuition. Of those children with autism attending school, 24% did not receive any additional support (excluding attending a special school or attending special classes in mainstream schools).

Data from the SDAC suggests the difficulties experienced in the education system continue after school. Of people with autism who had finished school, 77% had not completed a post-school qualification. This is well above the rate for both the rest of the population with disability and people with no disability (see Graph 4).