“Teachers are craving more information [about autism] and it is not easy to get good information,” explains Uta Frith, one of the world's leading experts on autism and emeritus professor of cognitive development at UCL.
In 1966, she began studying autism at a time when it was emerging field of research. She now says we are a much more autistic-aware society, but that many myths and misunderstandings still remain about the condition.
“One of the things that needs to be dismantled – autistic people don’t have empathy," she says. "It may be true for some, but that is not true [for all]. It is not a necessary feature of autism at all.
“Another myth is that some people think autistic children do not feel emotions as they do not recognise them in others – but that is an absolute myth. They have very, very strong emotions, it is regulating the emotions that is difficult.”
In the Tes Podagogy podcast, she expands on this theme and also touches on why teachers are so crucial for autistic children, why the terminology around autism is so problematic and how special schools are criminally under-appreciated.
“Teachers are the absolute key people – education is the only thing we can do to help autistic children with all kinds of difficulties,” she concludes.
You can listen for free by downloading the podcast from iTunes or listening below.