How can we help autistic children with learning disabilities?
A recent study in the British Medical Journal suggests there’s a good chance that autistic children may not get better autism care than children without autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
It’s called the “brainy child”.
Brainy children can benefit from learning, learning-related behaviours, and social interactions.
“They’re better able to integrate and collaborate and be part of a broader team of carers, and they’re better equipped to cope with the stress and isolation that can be associated with an ASD,” said Dr Paul Wainwright, from the University of Queensland, and co-author of the study.
“In other words, they may be more able to thrive in a family environment.”
The study looked at the outcomes of children with autism between the ages of three and 18.
It found that brainy children had higher rates of disability-related behaviour and poorer health outcomes than other children.
More importantly, brainy kids with autism were significantly more likely to experience exclusion from the family environment, such as family conflicts, isolation, and other difficulties.
The findings suggest that autism spectrum conditions may play a role in the persistence of autism in some children.
Dr Wainwritt said brainy was a term that could be used to describe children who have autism.
“[It is] a term used to recognise children who may have autism spectrum and have some of the characteristics associated with that,” he said.
Dr Wainsworth said he hoped the results would be useful to other families with children with ASD.
But he also urged parents to be vigilant about any potential exclusion.
If a family member is diagnosed with autism, Dr Wainsbury said, they should seek specialist help immediately.
And if they feel that a child might not be getting better autism services, Dr William said parents should consider what kind of support is available.
He recommended that parents look into social support groups and try to connect with other families.
“If we can find other families who are supportive of their child, then we can be a bit more selective about where they can be looked at and what services they can receive,” he explained.
For more information on autism, or to access autism services in your area, visit autism.org.au.