High Schools specifically for kids diagnosed with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism
- Australian Government
I am a parent of a five year old child diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (HFA).
Since my son was diagnosed with his condition mid last year, I have learnt that increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with HFA and Aspergers Syndrome and these kids struggle to survive in mainstream education as they get older. This is because their different learning style, social isolation, acute anxiety and various sensory sensitivities leads to many not being able to reach their full academic potential in the mainstream setting and this is a real shame because these kids are extremely intelligent.
I have been disturbed by the amount of parents I am meeting with HFA & Aspergers primary school kids of various ages, who are saying that mainstream high school will not be an option for their kids and that they plan to home school for high school.
I have also been shocked to hear from parents of HFA and Aspergers kids who have already finished high school, say how traumatised their kids are after finishing school, having withstood years and years of relentless bullying and now they struggle to function in the adult world. I think that we need to get small high schools set up in Australia specifically for students with HFA or Aspergers. At the moment in Australia there seems to be no other social schooling options other than mainstream for the kids at the higher end of the autism spectrum.
Now that there is hard evidence that these kids brains are wired differently and they have a different learning style to their neurotypical peers, educators need to consider this option. I also think it is unfair that these kids have to put up with high school bullying (as the statistics are that 90% of kids with ASD's get bullied at mainstream high schools). I know that many high schools have special ed units in them but other than learning difficulties, the playground is where the main problems are and these kids are being permanently mentally damaged by being made to withstand our system and ‘fit the mould’.
I am of the view that having a few small high schools with a modified curriculum tailoring to Aspergers and HFA in each state, could really benefit these kids and if large ASD friendly companies (such as banks, engineering, IT type firms) got on board with sponsoring kids for on the job work experience programs as part of the curriculum, it could lead to them having a real chance at succeeding at life and being less traumatised by not having to put up with neurotypical bullies.
Other countries such as the US and UK already have these types of high schools available as an option.
I find it incredible that this has not occurred here yet.
If you agree please sign this petition and it will be delivered to the Australian Federal Government.
UPDATE - 9/4/10 - For people in NSW, I have been informed that there is currently a Parliamentary Inquiry being held into the education of students with disabilities and special needs and they will still accept submissions from the public. I will be making a submission and encourage everyone else to do so as well as this will be another great way for people in NSW to get your concerns heard. The link to the inquiry details is -
Also - If there is anyone who has a child with Aspergers / HFA currently struggling through mainstream high school and you are prepared to talk to the media please contact me via the petition link below as there has been some interest.
UPDATE 2/8/10 - The link to this petition has been forwarded on to all state education departments and federal ministers. I have received some correspondence back, generally saying that they have taken note of our concerns and will keep it in mind when formatting future policies. The petition will be closed down shortly after the federal election. Thanks to all for taking the time to sign it and I hope that we do see change in the not too distant future for all our kids sakes.