Autism does not occur in isolation. It rarely occurs independently of other difficulties such as Learning or Mental Health Difficulties
School can be a challenging environment at the best of times but if a child is having difficulties such as anxiety, depression then any stressful event can cause the child to overthink the situation and react to a fight or flight stimulus which can then result in emotional trauma that in turn causes problems with concentration.
Most people, who have Autism, also have Learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, and/or Tourette’s syndrome. For some people there may be more than one Learning difficulty to cope with. If this is the case then it is usual to focus on the Disability that causes the most difficulty or most concern.
In other cases the disability may not be apparent at first as they may have found ways to disguise their difficulty. It is important to support the child rather than the label. In most schools there are support guidelines that can be adapted to help all children who are struggling, not just children with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities.
Because a child has a Learning Disability does not mean that their social and emotional needs are any less the children who surround them at school. Consider how difficult it is for the child with Dyslexia to decode some of the words in written instructions especially when they see how the other children are helping each other,
If the child is above average intelligence, having a learning disability can be doubly difficult. Most people with Dyslexia are average or above average intelligence and the same is the case with Asperger’s syndrome. This is further confounded if the child suffers with anxiety. This will result in poor self-esteem and low confidence levels.
Learning difficulties can lead to low self-esteem, isolation and ultimately behavior problems. If a child has a good support system that allows them to learn to express themselves, deal with their frustrations and see disappointments as challenges rather than an accepted ending they will have the chance to taste success.
Generally children with Learning Disabilities have difficulties with expressing their feelings, which will cause frustration and in some cases anger. They also have difficulty taking on strategies to enable themselves to calm down. Good social and emotional skills are a worthy indicator of success for both children and adults. If a child or adult can develop socially and emotionally, it can compensate for a lack of academic skills
Early interventions can help children with Autism become more independent, confident and self-reliant in many social situations. This does not mean that the interventions can ‘cure’; it means that the child will have a template in which they can expand their knowledge and apply their learning to many different situations.