Looking over the stories I’ve added in the last week, all I can think about is what I’ve long called “the really big lie about autism,” namely that all the kids on the spectrum are nothing new. They’ve always been here—we just called them something else.
That myth has been in circulation for the last twenty years, and true to the narrative, whenever the folks in Atlanta (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) get around to updating the autism rate, there’s never been a real increase.
“Better diagnosing”/”greater awareness”/”expanded definition” are always the explanations for more and more and more autism.
We once again prepare for April, Autism Awareness Month, and it’s time for the media to remind the public that autism is something we should celebrate. There will be calls for inclusion and acceptance and talk about neurodiversity.
All this flies in the face of reality when you look at the stories from the U.K. Even though officials still routinely tell us that they’re ‘excited’/‘delighted’/‘proud’ of the newest autism school or additional school places, they’ve got to be worried about the increases that never level off.
I would love to see a single reporter somewhere in the world bring up the obvious: When is this going to stop?
Is the rate of one in every 44 among U.S. children finally getting it right?
Or more specifically, what about one in 39 in North Carolina or one 36 in Minnesota or one in 35 in New Jersey or one in 26 in California or one in 22 in New York?
Is the one in 14 rate among 8 year olds in Toms River, NJ the better diagnosing level we should all be shooting for?
I just have to ask these things because no one else is. I guarantee that when we’re lighting up the world in blue next month, no one will bring up the uncomfortable questions.
One of the reasons I’ve compiled LossOfBrainTrust stories over the last five years is to show what officials and governments have long ignored. Something is terribly wrong with the health of our children, especially with their ability to learn, communicate and socialize.
Here’s a look at some of news over the last week. This will continue until special education takes over the schools.
First from the U.K.
Shropshire: New special school
With the number of pupils with SEND requirements – both in Shropshire and nationally – rising steadily, this is a fantastic opportunity to build a school that caters for the needs of those pupils. It will also complement the provision already in place in the county.”
Lothian: New special school
The new state-of-the-art Cedarbank School in Livingston is set to be handed over to West Lothian Council. …
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “I’m delighted that the outstanding new Cedarbank School will be ready for pupils from next month. …
The new school is part of a £26.5 million [$34.7M] investment in schools dedicated to supporting pupils with additional support needs, which will see a new Beatlie School in Livingston built as well as improvements to Ogilvie Campus in Livingston and the Pinewood ASN School in Blackburn…
Roddy Clark, Hub South East's Operations Director, said: "We're proud…
Rotherham: New special school
A specialist trust has been appointed to run a new school in Rotherham for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.
Ethos Academy Trust (EAT) will run the new 125-child school,…
The new school will be the only one of its type in the borough and will meet the growing need for specialist provision….
“We are very excited to be working alongside them on our shared goal of boosting the education and life chances of Rotherham children.”
Jayne Foster, CEO at Ethos Academy Trust said: “The Trust is delighted…
Ipswich: New special school
Twenty jobs will be created as a new special educational needs school opens in east Ipswich in the autumn….
It will offer 60 places for students aged between nine and 16 and will be the first time that children in Ipswich will have bespoke SEN provision available….
Naomi Shenton, principal at the school, said: "Paradigm Trust is delighted to be able to create over 20 jobs in the town.
Newbury: New special school
Some 37 people could be employed at the new school at River View House, which would take around 50 pupils
A new school for children with special needs could be built at an empty Newbury office block. Plans have been submitted to convert River View House, on Newbury Business Park, into a new school for around 50 pupils. …
The children may have a range of needs including emotional and mental health issues.
Brent: New special school
A special school for 150 pupils with autism is coming to North West London. …
A budget of £20million [$26M] has been approved…
The news comes as local authorities face funding pressures around special needs schools. In a report presented to Brent Council’s schools forum in November, it noted it expected to pay £4.6m [$6.1M] more than it was allocated by the government for special needs provision for 2021/22.
Council officers put the situation down to an increase in the number of children in Brent needing specialist education, as well as a rise in the number of “complex cases” in the borough. …
…“A large and growing number of local authorities have a high needs deficit….
He explained there were ambitions to invest £44m [$58M] in special education in Brent, which will result in 427 school places. …
Northumberland: New special school
A Northumberland special school is moving to a £5.5m [$7.2M] new base in Ponteland – and will admit girls for the first time….
The move will see the number of much-needed places the school can offer increase from 80 to 100 and allow it to admit girls as well as boys – creating the first dedicated educational provision for girls in Northumberland with social, emotional and mental health needs.
…the move represented a £5.5m [$7.2M] investment in the disused Ponteland site in Thornhill Road and it was an “inevitable and much-needed step that we need to increase our capacity for children with extra educational needs”….
Paul Sampson, headteacher at Atkinson House, said the new building would provide not only more space to accommodate a growing number of pupils…
Newham: New special school
JFK Special School, which is part of the Learning in Harmony Trust (LiHT), has opened a brand-new Annex to support children with SEND across Newham, in London. ...
The site serves up to 25 pupils, aged 11 to 18, with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) needs…
The specialist provision has been built in response to the significant 129 per cent increase of primary-aged pupils identified as having ASC in the last five years, who will now require specialist support at a secondary school….
This is getting a little tedious. Pretty soon the idea of yet another special school opening won’t get any coverage at all.
But there were some concerns being raised, kind of.
The education chief on the Sheffield Council had to apologize to parents after inspectors found “significant weaknesses in its special education needs and disabilities provision.”
The High Court in Britain has ordered local councils to complete special ed plans in “fixed legal time limits,” which of course they haven’t done as a rule. Some children wait years to receive services.
A good example of this is the 10-year-old boy from Leeds who has been turned down by four schools and left without a place for two years.
The father was quoted:
"We didn't realise how many families are going through this. There's so much anger and so many people in similar situations have been commenting and telling us their children have experienced similar - being left out of education for years or in some extreme cases committed suicide.
"There are so any children with PDA [Pathological Demand Avoidance] who do not get the right support and often get horrible outlooks because of that….
"Local authorities and CAMHS are so out of date and overloaded and just don't kick into effect until kids turn up in hospital."
There was also the story from Devon about the council massive deficit, and it’s of course tied to special education.
The update comes after the county council recently agreed its new budget from April, which will provide a combined extra £30 million [$39M] for children’s and adult services. Council tax will rise by three per cent to help cover the increases...
The budget position does not currently include a separate, increasing overspend for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This is because the government has told local councils to put overspends for SEND provision into separate ring-fenced accounts for three years until April 2023, while it develops a new plan to fund it.
The county council entered the current financial year with an overspend of £49 million [$64M] in its SEND account, which is effectively debt. It expects to add a further £40 million [$52M] to this in the current financial year, according to the report…
Dr Phil Norrey, the chief executive of Devon County Council, said earlier this year that the funding system for special educational needs was ‘broken’ and described it as a ‘national problem’.
So there you have it. There may be growing deficits and a ‘broken’ system, but the money will come from somewhere. It has to.
If you want to see the bright side of autistic/special needs kids, search news stories from America. They tend to be very upbeat.
In Austin, MN, the local autism organization will be joining in the Autism Awareness Month festivities.
The 12th annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2. Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes, and communities around the world will sport light blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.
Autism Friendly Austin is celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on Saturday, April 2, with a Spectrum Celebration Day. …
Lincoln and Omaha will be the sites of two autism therapy centers.
Stride Autism Centers (“Stride”), a provider of evidence-based therapy for preschool-age children with autism, is thrilled to announce two new convenient locations in Nebraska.
The local theater in Sewickley, PA is hosting a free, “sensory-friendly movie screening.”
An autism therapy provider is opening in Las Vegas.
NCHC will be celebrating the opening of its offices and center located at 1311 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV…
There was one concerning story from the U.S. that I ran across. A teacher in Hollywood, FL was hospitalized for the FOURTH TIME after she was violently attacked by a 5-year-old special needs boy.
Meadow's had been teaching an "exceptional student education" with a "group of "children with some type of special needs or special disability, with all kinds of different diagnoses." Fusco continued: "The way he pounced on her and the way she fell backwards and smacked her head, it was a severe concussion.
"She's got some other bodily injuries from him jumping on her, attacking her, kicking, punching, biting that's going to lead to surgery."….
Fusco has since spoken to WSVN, where she said: "She has been hospitalised several times by this student. It's not this first time, not the second time, it's the third time."
There were no specific details given in the coverage, but many of us understand what happened here. It’s the dark side of things, exactly what we won’t be hearing about during April.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.