Why the NSPCC is getting Ambitious about Autism - YEP opinion

I would like to talk about a new partnership between Net Aware, our website run in partnership with O2, and Ambitious about Autism.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 11:45 am
The NSPCC has lots of activities around safe online friendships. Picture: Getty Images.

In this week’s column, I would like to talk about a new partnership between Net Aware, our website run in partnership with O2, and Ambitious about Autism.

A collaboration which aims to share online safety advice specifically for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND).

This is an exciting partnership which has been shaped by parents of children with a range of special educational needs such as dyslexia, autism and speech and language difficulties.

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Being online can be positive for children and young people, including those with additional needs.

This past lockdown year has certainly shown that. And as parents or carers, we have an important role in helping to make sure our children have a positive experience online.

When your child has additional needs, your role can be even more important, and it can feel like a lot of responsibility when you hear about some of the risks young people face online.

So, we have created a SEND Hub on our Net Aware site which has lots of advice, contributions from parents’ real life experiences and useful tools such as downloadable photo symbols to help have online safety chats. Social media can have a real draw for children and young people. However, the ‘unwritten rules’ of social media can be very confusing. This can be especially difficult for young people with SEND. Children know that saying unkind words isn’t a nice thing to do. But the difficulty is that social media can be more subtle in the way it can cause upset. Children can exclude others from groups online or on group chats. And sometimes something as little as not commenting on or liking a photo can cause an argument. So as parents and carers it is important we talk to our children about their understanding of the ‘unwritten rules’ of social media and talking to people online. Often without tone and body language, it can be difficult to understand what someone is trying to say or how you are being perceived.

I really wanted to highlight that the new SEND Hub also features real life tips and advice from parents and carers.

On the Net Aware Send Hub there are also lots of activities to try, designed in partnership with Ambitious about Autism, for example, around online friendships, sharing personal details and even a quiz that can help you talk about online safety. Please do give them a try. And remember you can find more information about your child’s wider online world and the most popular apps, sites and games they’re using at www.net-aware.org.uk