A key piece of advice to help you and your family through the coming holiday season is this: If you’re having a tough time with your child’s language or reading ability, it’s time to ask yourself whether there’s something wrong with you, rather than assuming your child needs to learn something new.
That’s the advice from a new study, which has found that more than half of those who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders believe they need to learn to read.
They are also more likely to say they need a computer or video game console, according to the Australian National Disability Research Centre (ANDRC).
The report, which was published today in the journal Psychological Medicine, was based on a survey of 1,091 adults and 1,099 children with autism.
It found that 42 per cent of those surveyed thought they needed a computer to read and write, while just 11 per cent said they needed the assistance to read a text or video.
That means that over half of adults surveyed agreed with the statement that their child had some difficulty with language.
The study also found that children who had been diagnosed had a more positive outlook on their reading ability than those who had not.
They were also less likely to be bothered by the idea of having a computer.
“I think it’s a really important finding, that it’s actually a positive finding that people with autism, even those who do have some difficulties with language, feel they need the help of a computer in order to learn how to read,” ANDRC research fellow Professor Tim Wilson said.
“It means that in a lot of cases, they feel like they’re able to do it.”
Mr Wilson said he believed the research also showed that parents who had a child with autism could benefit from some extra support.
“There’s no reason why you can’t have a child that’s having difficulties with the language but that doesn’t mean that they can’t also benefit from other aspects of the child’s life that help them learn language,” he said.
The research also found there were significant differences in the ways people in the autism spectrum perceived their children’s reading ability.
Those with an autism spectrum disorder were more likely than those without to have a computer at home, while those who were diagnosed with the disorder were less likely than others to have one.
The ANDCC report also found the average age of people with disabilities was higher than the average of the general population.
People with a diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions tend to have older parents than those with non-autism spectrum conditions.
In other words, the more parents you have with a disability, the younger your child will be.
The report also said that a high proportion of people in this age group reported having a disability and that it was a challenge for them to read for themselves.
“One of the things that’s really surprising is that when you’re talking to a child who has a disability it’s not uncommon for them or their parents to have to be on a waiting list for a computer, a book or a computer game, or have a disability specialist visit them,” Dr Lisa Kappel, who conducted the study with Dr Michelle Golligan, a senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Western Australia, said.
“What we know from the research is that most children with a developmental disability, including those with autism can’t read a single page on a computer,” Dr Kappels research partner Dr Michelle Gilligan said.