The purpose of this paper is to bring to light autism as a disorder that is prevalent among school children. Although autism most certainly has existed throughout the history of man, there were no publications of the disorder before 1943 when Kanner published Autistic disturbances of affective contact (Happe, 1998). Since then, there has been further research into the subject and this paper will delve first, into the definition of autism. Furthermore, the characteristics of and the speculated causes of autism will be discussed. Because autism is identified in childhood, this paper will also look into a child's rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), a law Congress enacted in 1975. Also, different strategies for the education of students with autism in the general education classroom will be discussed.
Autism is defined as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of (What is Autism, 2006). According to the American Psychological Association, five disorders fall under this category:
[...] As mentioned previously, one of the characteristics of autism is problem behavior and this can greatly affect quality of education that an autistic child gets. One strategy to deal with this is using positive behavior support: encouraging appropriate behavior to replace problem behavior (Turnbull, Turnbull, Shank & Smith p. 294). It is important to teach what behavioral expectations are and to acknowledge when appropriate behaviors are performed. The following are steps in a positive behavior support plan: 1. Description of target problem behavior 2. [...]
[...] revealed that autism is a spectrum disorder, where there are different degrees to which the disorder affects individuals. Evidence exists that while one child can socially avoidant, another may just be socially passive, or may be social, but in an atypical manner (Happe p. 16). Early Signs of Autism Autistic behavior becomes the most apparent between the ages of two and five years old, but there are characteristics that may appear in infancy (Wing, 1985). There are two different patterns of behavior that can be associated with autism in infants. [...]
[...] People with autism “seem to take great trouble to keep their existence organized into a reasonably invariant routine” (Webster p. 9). Also, behavioral problems may be prevalent. Some autistic children exhibit self-destructive behavior and throw temper tantrums when faced with the slightest amount of anxiety (Webster p. 7). This is in conjunction with their opposition to change; if the student is asked to do something that he/she is not doing, he/she will become upset with the idea of doing something other than what they want to do. [...]
[...] Communication is also a conscious, cognitive activity; autism may be identifiable when the child lacks the motivation to communicate with others (Cohen, 1998). Autistic children may also have unusual responses to stimuli around them, specifically sound. A child may not appear to respond to loud noises, such as a fire truck or ambulance, but respond to the sound of a candy wrapper crinkling as it unwraps. Also, children may find themselves extremely attracted to one relatively normal sound and extremely distressed by another (Wing p. [...]
[...] The characteristics of autism are identifiable at the age of three, when IDEA begins to support children with disabilities, but there are a few signs of autism that can be observed in infants. Under IDEA, parents are given the right to proper education for their exceptional child through a nondiscriminatory evaluation and creation of an IEP. References Cohen, S. (1998). Targeting Autism. Los Angeles, CA: U of California P. Happe, F. (1998). Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U P. [...]
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