Safeguarding Children and Young People with Autism

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Safeguarding Children and Young People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of current provisions for safeguarding children and young people with Autism, whilst paying attention to proposed and current legislation and reports/ policy initiatives from a UK and Welsh perspectives. The rationale for this paper is because the writer has a nine year old autistic child. All children’s welfare is underpinned by legislation, leaving parents and adults with considerable flexibility in how to raise their child but the state will intervene when their safety and well being is under threat, settings and services are also accountable for their professional practice towards children and young people (Lindon, 2008). Legislation makes a very public statement about what is acceptable or unacceptable conduct towards children in today’s society (Lindon, 2008) however, a child with autism find the world a strange and difficult place, allowing them to become much more vulnerable to predators in society

Howlin (1997) describes autism as, “a life-long, often devastating, disorder that profoundly affects almost every aspect of an individuals functioning.” (p1) People with autism have difficulty with everyday social interactions, it also affects how they make sense of the world around them (National Autistic Society, 2012). The three main triads affecting a people with autism are, difficulty with social communication, difficulty with social interaction and difficulty with social imagination (National Autistic Society 2012) In the past few decades, there has also been a steady increase in the number of first hand accounts written by self-advocates who self-identify as individuals on the autism spectrum, (e.g., Grandin & Scariano, 1986; Newport & Newport, 2002; Prince-Hughes, 2002; Mukhopadhyay, 2008) this is largely due to society becoming more acceptable to listen to people with disabilities and the acknowledgement that a people with autism can contribute enormously to society with their skills, and sometimes their ‘special gift.’ (Howlin 1997 p13)

It is fifty years since Leo Kanner first described his ‘classic autistic spectrum’ and since then the results of research and clinical work have led to the broadening of the concept of autism disorders. It is estimated that around half a million people in the UK are affected with autism rising to 2.3 million which include families and professionals involved with their care and support.(National Autistic Society 2012) Autism (including Asperger syndrome) appears to be more common among boys than girls. This could be because of genetic differences between the sexes, or that the criteria used to diagnose autism are based on the characteristics of male behaviour. However, this understanding is far from complete, and this will remain the case until more is known about the causes of autism. (Ozenoff et al 2002) It is generally accepted that there are four main forms of abuse, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse (NSPCC 2012), bullying is not an official category of abuse but is harmful, damaging and oppressive. All children need to be kept safe, when at home, at school and out playing and keeping safe covers a wide range of issues, but when we talk about safeguarding it is generally the safeguarding of children from abuse. All children can be abused by adults, their peers or older children. The abusers can be family members, family friends, and significant adults in their lives, acquaintances or even strangers. Abusers often threaten or persuade the abused that their actions are normal or that they will suffer even greater trauma if they tell someone. Society today has a duty to protect these children, often children are embarrassed to explain how they feel to another person or too upset to talk about it because they know something is not right about the situation but they feel that somehow it is their fault, a...
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