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Learning Disabilities, Autism and Internet Safety: A Parent’s GuideCreated by Lisa in Being a Granny-carer, Education, Health and Safety
A new guide to help parents of children with learning disabilities and autism is now available. The guide is a collaboration between charities Cerebra, Mencap and Ambitious about Autism and aims to help parents limit the risk of their child having negative experiences online and understand what action can be taken if they do. It also suggests resources that will help children get the most out of the internet at home and in the community.
Use of the internet is on the increase with 77% of households in Great Britain having an internet connection in 2011. Increasingly, children and young people are learning and socialising using online resources. Many children with special educational needs are supported to use information technology in schools to allow them to access their education more successfully. Children use the internet to do their homework, to play games and to socialise with their peers.
There are real benefits to young people with learning disabilities and autism using the internet for learning and social interaction and increasingly the internet caters for their needs with accessible design and simplified language.
However, alongside the many benefits it brings to children and young people there are also a number of risks. With access to technology comes the potential for cyber bullying, online grooming and risk of exposure to inappropriate content. This is a risk for all children and young people using the internet but the risk can be more profound for young people with a learning disability as a result of increased vulnerability, tendencies towards obsessive compulsive behaviour and social naivety. Studies have shown that pupils with Special Educational Needs are 16% more likely to be persistently cyber bullied over a prolonged period of time.
The comprehensive Parent’s Guide gives advice on how to make both home and mobile internet safe and how to prepare your child to use the internet. It identifies a range of potential risks and gives advice on how to prevent/deal with them as well as suggesting how to safely explore the many benefits using the internet can give.