Educating Children with Autism
LAT1 Task 5
Western Governors University
Autism is a life-long developmental disability with deficits in social reciprocity, communication, perceptual-motor integrations and overall adaptive functioning. The symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) vary from very mild to extremely severe. The cause of autism is not known, however, there is the possibility of multiple causes and possible genetic influences. Autism is more common in boys than girls, but it does not discriminate among races, nationalities or social classes. (The Oklahoma State Department of Education Special Education Services and The Center for Learning and Leadership OUHSC, College of Medicine, 2008)
Research suggests that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will have a better educational outcome by having a structured classroom, consistent routines and modified classwork. Structured classrooms, consistent routines and modified class work increases social understanding, communication, peer inclusion, evidence-based teaching, sensory processing, visual supports, and family perspectives. One out of one hundred fifty children born develop autism. (The Oklahoma State Department of Education Special Education Services and the Center for Learning and Leadership OUHSC, College of Medicine, 2008) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability with 10-17% annual growth. Some theories on the growth are due to increased awareness, more screening tools, and services and changes in how autism is defined and diagnosed. Patterns of certain behaviors are clues of ASD. These include lack or delay of speech, lack of the ability to strike up a conversation, repetitive use of language, and lack of imagination. Children who have ASD have been found to miss out on social learning. ASD children have problems starting or responding to joint attention and tend to view people as inanimate objects.
Children with ASD need repetitive motor and sensory experiences to aid their ability to comprehend social experiences. Consider the saying, “monkey see, monkey do”. Some scientists believe that a mirror neuron system in the human brain shapes the basis for social behavior. Mirror neurons fire when the individual is repeating an action they have done before. Children with autism have a dysfunctional mirror neuron system that only allows them to respond to what they do, not to what they are seeing. (The Oklahoma State Department of Education Special Education Services and The Center for Learning and Leadership OUHSC, College of Medicine, 2008)
ASD children often have a difficult time understanding typical human behaviors. They don’t understand their own behavior and are not able to predict the behavior of others. They are unable to understand other people’s points of view. A child with ASD needs to develop a clear understanding of their disability. High functioning ASD children are very aware that they are different from other children, and it is very important that they learn to read and understand their own body signals.
There are three social/emotional stages for ASD children. Early Stage: The child may have little or no communication skills, become flustered easily, cry a lot, hit, kick, yell to communicate, and may have problems playing with others or getting involved in a group activity. Middle Stage: The child may have limited verbal communication skills, but does not express emotions or ideas. Additionally, the child may be unsuccessful when trying to play or interact with others. Later Stage: The child may be able to have a conversation and be able to have ideas, but is not be able to read social cues. The child may have calming strategies but may not know how and when to effectively use them. Often they want to play with friends but do not understand why no one wants to play back. The child cannot accept changes well.
The ability to relate to others in a