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Coping with feelings

John Clark looks at examples of Glasgow's expanding provision for children with autism, which some say is still lacking

The communications disorder unit at St Vincent's Primary, Carnwadric, has 22 pupils. It is a bright, colourful, friendly place, with classes of no more than six pupils.

The staff consists of a unit co-ordinator, five teachers, five special educational needs auxiliaries, a speech and language therapist and a therapy assistant.

Isobel McAlister, the unit co-ordinator, said: "Many of our children are identified in nursery school as having some sort of difficulty with communication or some sort of impairment socially." They follow an enhanced version of the 5-14 curriculum. Each child also has an independent education programme - in which parents are closely involved - charting progress in areas such as social awareness, play and self-help.

Staff teach simple strategies to identify feelings such as anger and frustration - and how to cope.

Ms McAlister said: "I would consider it a success if we can help a child to access his life, to make friends and maximise his social potential. Autism doesn't ever go away; it just changes."

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