Autism and Vision Impairment in special schools
22 March 2021
Autism is unusually common among people with severe vision impairment.
Autistic children also often have more difficulty with sensory integration than their “neurotypical” peers. In fact, the autistic spectrum is characterised by differences in processing and responding to sensory information, as well as differences in communication and social interaction. Several of the young people at WESC Foundation’s special school and college have autism and vision impairment.
Common behaviours associated with autism can be the result of vision processing difficulties that often go undiagnosed. These behaviours include lack of eye contact, staring at spinning objects or light, and absence of reciprocal play. Other examples are, fleeting peripheral glances or rolling eyes, visual defensiveness, and difficulty tracking moving objects.
It’s important that autistic children have their vision assessed by vision specialists. This should be part of a multidisciplinary approach to support their learning and development. Appropriate assessments can help make the distinction between an autistic child with vision processing difficulties and a child with a cerebral vision impairment (CVI). That distinction can mean the difference between the child getting the support they need to access their education or not.
Looking for a special school for a child with autism?
At WESC Foundation we support both autistic children and children with cerebral vision impairments in their development to live fulfilling young and adult lives, through the delivery of a range of education, care and support services. All the young people at WESC Foundation have a diagnosed vision impairment, but for many it is their autism or other additional needs that may be their primary challenge, not their vision.