Teenagers with autism are being bullied and discriminated against, have difficulty paying attention in class and feel lonely.
The first ever study to ask high functioning teenage autism sufferers about their own experience with their disability has found less than half the students had good friends.
The study found more than half the students needed support for bullying and discrimination and that two thirds felt lonely and needed help managing stress.
Three in four said they needed more help understanding teachers in the classroom and managing their homework and concentration.
Autism Spectrum Australia surveyed 100 people aged 12-17 with autism and found a shortage of coordinated, appropriate and affordable support services.
Lead researcher Dr Debra Costley said the students in the study had Asperger's syndrome, were high functioning and had high IQs but had problems with social interaction.
"Their disability is very hard to see," she said.
At school their peers honed in on their weaknesses such as sensitivity to noise and crowds, Dr Costley said.
One boy was struggling with his lessons because between each class he had to visit his locker which was on the bottom row.
"He had other kids standing over his head banging the doors and found it very stressful between lessons,' she said.
The problem was solved by moving his locker to the top row.
Only 54 per cent of autism sufferers with an IQ over 70 are in paid employment and the study says this will continue unless more support is given to students while they are still at school.
Not-for-profit service provider Autism Spectrum Australia wants more funding to train teachers and schools how to deal with students with autism.
"There is plenty of evidence that programs supporting adolescents through the transition from school into the workforce provide tangible benefits for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the service group says.
There should also be peer group education to reduce bullying, Dr Costley says.
Many Australians have autism - a lifelong disability that makes it difficult for sufferers to engage in social interaction, communicate and leaves them with repetitive interests and behaviours.
Note: the source article said "230,000 Australians have autism" — this appears to be calculated from a belief that autism prevalence is uniformly 1% of the population across all ages ... an hypothesis that is not really supported by Australian data (see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/695).
see also Teens with autism bullied and stressed at http://www.psychiatryupdate.com.au/latest-news/teens-with-autism-bullied...
Three in 4 Australian teens with autism are struggling with bullying and mental health problems, a new report shows. Close to 75% of parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder said their child was not getting enough support to cope with bullying, found the survey of 100 12-17 year olds with high functioning autism and 65 parents. The majority of parents said their child’s loneliness and anxiety were not being managed appropriately, with 65% believing teachers have little understanding of autism, according to the report from Autism Spectrum Australia.