An autistic person in Poland • Autyzm - Stowarzyszenie Pomocy Osobom Autystycznym

 An autistic person in Poland 

According to estimated data there are about 30 thousand people suffering from autism in Poland (including 20 thousand children and 10 thousand adults). The problem of exclusion also concerns the families of autistic people, which together makes up a group of 100 thousand people. The number of falling ill increases steadily although the reasons for that are not fully recognised.

I. diagnosis and therapy
An early diagnosis (that is under 3 year-old) and intensive therapy are indispensable for the people with autism to have a chance for a normal life. Today the situation of children, youth and adults with autism is dramatically bad in Poland. Below there are some basic problems in diagnosis and therapy, which parents struggling with the disease of their children must  deal with.

  • Lack of diagnosis
    Because of the low degree of knowledge about autism among the society and doctors as well, many people with autism are not diagnosed at all or are diagnosed incorrectly.
  • Late diagnosis
    In Poland the diagnosis is made much too late. For the reason of not having the sufficient number of diagnostic institutes, the average waiting period for the first visit at a specialist takes from 6 months to 1 year. The average age of a diagnosed person (that concerns only diagnosed children) is about 4,5.
  • Lack of therapy
    Among the children who are diagnosed to have autism only every second child has permanent care in a specialist institution. In many institutions the waiting period for the therapy lasts for even more than one year.
  • Far distance from a specialist institution.
    About 92 kilometers.

II. Education of people with autism
There are still many unsolved problems dealing with education of autistic people. They do not concern the lack of legal solutions as much as they concern the practice of using them.
There are still problems with:

  • Lack of educational programs adjusted to the specific needs of people with autism.
  • Lack of qualified staff.
  • Lack of integrated High Schools (High Schools are not prepared to admit students with autism).

Social barriers. There are still communities that are not doing their duties concerning organizing and assuring transport and care for handicapped children (including autistic children) on the way to school and back home. Many kindergartens and schools do not want to admit children with autism in spite of regulations (among others in Education System Act) that guarantee access of handicapped children and youth to every type of school. The fear against letting ‘people from the outside’ inside the school territory causes that the volunteers – the autistic students’ assistants provided by parents are not allowed to enter the school.

III. Situation on the labor market
Because of the difficulties in social functioning and communicating with other people the school period, in the best case, is the last moment of participation in the social life for people with autism. Having to depend on themselves they are not able to cope with things on the labor market. Staying in social isolation they slowly lose the skills acquired at school and they become almost one hundred percent dependent on the social and medical care, which in turn generates the necessity to increase huge expenses from the public money. It must be stressed that adult people with autism can and want to work if they receive help.

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