Autism Blindness

Autism blindness (definition)

Very sarcastic and written when I was in a bad place – please forgive me.

Autism blindness is an affliction suffered largely by primary school teachers who, despite normal intelligence, are unable to see a number of autistic traits when they are present right in front of them.  These traits may include; reactions to change, inability of a child to accept the blame when there is a group (rather than individual) disruption and difficulty in processing information due to anxiety.

It is common for those suffering from autism blindness to blame the child’s response on: ‘bad’ behaviour, poor parenting, learned behaviour, or to describe it as ‘normal’, in order to prevent the need to ‘see’ the autism.  Autism blindness is compounded by an innate fear the sufferers have of developing a relationship with the child.  It is widely believed that this fear is due to a subconscious belief that they may in fact be w.r.o.n.g about the child’s difficulties, the consequences of which can be devastating to the mental well being of those afflicted with autism blindness.

The aetiology of autism blindness.  Autism blindness is largely believed to be the product of a system that teaches teachers that they only have to help a child with a problem that they can see.  They have a duty to provide an education that meets the needs of the child, but only if they can see the child’s needs.  A key secondary factor is thought to be that the sufferers need to block the realisation that others, including parents and health professionals, will also ‘know’ the child well; perhaps as well as they do.  For some, this is feeling can be very threatening, even overwhelming, and result in the blocking of a number of their pre-existing attributes and their communication skills.

The consequences of autism blindness are far reaching.  The child will inevitably not get the education they are legally entitled to.  Their parents suffer stress and distress similar to those in mentally abusive relationships, siblings witness untold preventable distress and the friendships, health and social activities of the entire family will deteriorate.

It is essential that autism blindness is prevented by a healthy culture of genuine multi-professional working, and respect and acceptance of the parents’ inevitable expertise in the subject of their child.

OK, OK…..  so it was made up by me in complete and utter desperation and disbelief about what was going on around me.  It was more than a couple of years ago now.  I think many will relate.  I realise it may sting a little, especially for those who are, or who know some of the many teachers who work hard to understand, help and to get things ‘right’ for all of the children in their class.  I know these people exist and I also appreciate that the system is crippling for them too.  

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5 thoughts on “Autism Blindness

  1. A lot of parents also suffer from teacher blindness. Teachers are expected to know absolutely every detail about every child and every childhood disorder and also know how to manage all of those successfully on an individual basis as not all children present the same. This is in an average class of 30 children. Some of these children are carers, some are fostered, some are looked after by the state, some have allergies, some are epileptic, some have autism, some have adhd, some have dyslexia. Some may affected by psychosocial factors. Teachers have to be aware of all students’ issues and as proactive and reactive as possible to provide support for all, data to show progression for all, attend team meetings regarding the children they teach that require additional support, department meetings, ofsted meetings, lessons planned, books marked, and then the actual teaching takes place but evidence of differential learning to ensure gifted children are supported appropriately, children in the middle are motivated to achieve greater potential and those students struggling are not left behind. Not to mention classroom management. Teachers are also constantly looking for signs of neglect. Teachers teach, but they are also social workers, referees, mentors, data managers, therapists, nurses and scapegoats when things go wrong. This takes about 60-75 hours of work each week. An average hourly rate of pay for a teacher for hours actually worked is between 8.50 to 11.45. They train for their profession for as long as Doctor. I make these points as a mother of an autistic boy (and yes I’ve had to battle too!) and as the wife of a hard working, caring, but beleaguered teacher. x


    1. Thank you for your comment Nikki. I hope that in the future better steps towards multi-agency working will mean that teachers don’t need to know about every childhood disorder because, of course, this is not possible. I hope that this will mean they feel less pressure to do the impossible and more supported in the process.


    2. Well they chose that job for starters and nobody forces them to continue to do it if the demands are too high on them. Parents naturally would expect a teacher to listen when they go to them reporting their child’s difficulties and many refuse to and simply deny there is a problem. Most parents aren’t expecting teachers to recognise a need for autism assessment, but for it to be a joint effort of school and parents, or to at least listen to the parent’s concerns. But as you say, they are too busy looking out for signs of neglect and acting like social workers. They are blinded by the belief that all parents are potential abusers and this is why they don’t recognise autism signs too, because they are unqualified yet still may attribute autistic traits to neglect or abuse. And there have been media articles about parents being accused of MSBP/FII when they try to get professionals to listen to the fact that their child is in difficulty. If teacher doesn’t ‘see’ it, parent has to be lying.


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