Autism, also called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a mental disorder that starts in early childhood, in which a person finds it very difficult to communicate or form relationships with others and often shows limited or repeated patterns of thought and behavior ( Autism, Oxford Learners). The reason it is called a spectrum disorder is that there is a wide range of types and symptoms. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often suffer from learning problems and skills developing out of order. For example, a child could be super successful in math but have trouble with their social skills. There is a wide variety of symptoms including lack of eye contact, specified range of interests, repetitive behavior, high sensitivity to loud sounds, and trouble adapting to any change in a specific routine. Four different separate conditions fall under Autism Spectrum Disorder. These are Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Autistic disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder also known as atypical autism. It is unknown why Autism occurs, however, research says that it may stem from the part of your brain that processes language and interprets sensory input. Some facts that many people do not know about Autism Spectrum Disorder are that it is four times more common in males than females, it runs in families, and that no evidence proves that vaccinations cause Autism. When screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder, the doctors will focus on behavior and development. The developmental screening tells the doctor if the child knows basic skills such as moving, behavior, learning, and speaking. Children can be screened routinely. If a child shows concerns after this screening is done, then they’ll perform more tests on the child such as hearing, vision, and genetic testing. Parents need to educate their children on understanding that there are children that are different from they are. It is very easy to teach their children simple strategies they can use when they communicate with children with Autism. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder usually have characteristics such as trouble knowing what is and is not sarcasm, sensory issues, such as sounds that are too loud, and difficulty switching from one activity to another. For example, if the child is doing an activity that they enjoy, and then have to switch to something they dislike, they might throw a fit or get angry. From the early 1900s, autism has referred to a range of neuropsychological conditions (Bhandari 2019). Autism originates from the Greek word “ autos,” which means self. Eugen Bleuler was the first person to use the term autism. He used this term to describe a patient with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and autism were linked in similarity to many researchers until the 60s. Some past treatments for autism were LSD and electric shock, relying on pain and punishment. Finally, in the 1980s researchers started using behavioral therapy and highly controlled learning environments which are treatments still used today. Speech therapists are people who can help children with autism. They can help the child improve their social skills and communication skills. Things they might do is teach them how to get along with their peers, understand different gestures, and how to ask and answer questions. They also might help with food problems, since children with Autism sometimes don’t like how food feels, tastes, looks, or smells. In the future, researchers hope to find a cure for autism, however many feel that it is unlikely that a cure will be developed. A way to help families and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder is to devote resources to research on how to help families find better ways to live with the condition.
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Every general education teacher will most likely have a child with Autism in their classroom or their school. TEACCH is a frequently used strategy by educators. It stands for Training and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children. It includes structured teaching strategies, working with families, gaining a better understanding of Autism, and individualized assessments. Children with ASD often struggle with abilities to think, learn, and behave. This strategy uses routines, visual supports, physical structure, activities to help the child socialize, as well as an organization to help the student be more successful. I found this quote from this website and thought it described teaching children with any disability perfectly. “Students on the autism spectrum are so unique in their needs, there is no “ one-size fits all” teaching method” ( Heick 2019). There are several strategies teachers should use in their classroom every day such as creating routines, giving fewer choices, and treating the child like any other kid as much as possible. Students with ASD prefer to use a solid routine. Creating a pattern including greeting, a starter activity, and similar transition cues, as well as wrapping up class is something all teachers should try. Changing this routine may result in the teacher giving the child plenty of notice in advance to this change. Children with ASD can become overwhelmed very easily when given too many choices. Acknowledging the child when he or she follows your requests, giving a variety of choices, letting the child know how his entire day will be before it starts and giving him a schedule, will let the child what is going to occur next. Using just two simple choices can help the child make better decisions, and stay calm. A way to do this is to find something that the student is interested in. For example, the student could be interested in music, so finding some way to tie music into the lesson might help the child with ASD learn more efficiently. Making personal connections with children with ASD is just as important as making the connections you make with your other students. Children with Autism notice when they are receiving more attention than others or when they aren’t. Taking time to learn strategies specifically made for children with Autism can make a difference. Creating that connection with the child can lead to him or she wanting to open up, which is rewarding. “Make sure students with autism get the “kid” experience, not the “ autistic kid” experience, or the “special needs” treatment” ( Heick 2019).
Autism Speaks is the first website that pops up when I researched Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has a lot of information about several topics and has information provided in Spanish as well. The topics it covers are what Autism is, help and information, their work, and how to get involved. The first topic I will cover is their tap named, “ What is Autism?” This tab has three subtabs, as well as more subtabs for each of the three. These are listed as symptoms, what causes autism, Asperger Syndrome, statistics and facts, learning about screening, sensory issues, treatments, access services, and insurance. I think this website provides all of the necessary sections to help someone understand more about Autism. It also would help a parent determine if their child would need to be screened for Autism. This website also tells people about how they can help raise money and spread awareness. Under the get involved section, four subtabs are explaining how to fundraise, ways to give, how to advocate, and ways to become a partner. They provide a list of many ways to fundraise such as participating in a walk, teaming up, creating your fundraiser, and many more. I think it is incredible how much this website offers for people wanting to either learn more about Autism or help to find a cure. One negative thing I found about this website is that the amount of information in each tab is not super high. They do provide basic helpful information, however, they do not go into specific detail.
The second website I chose to critique was the Autism Society. The tabs provided on this website are, what Autism is, living with autism, how to get involved, about us, and a Spanish tab which is very helpful to those who only speak Spanish. Under the section “What is Autism” they provide many different tabs ranging from causes to facts and statistics to living with this disorder. That leads me into my next tab, “ Living with Autism.” Under this tab, there is an unbelievable amount of subtabs providing information such as academic success, Autism and family, being involved in the community in which you live, and mental health. I was so surprised to see so much information on living with the disorder. I think this is super helpful for someone to read if they want to understand more about people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. I noticed right away that this website provides so much more information than the Autism Speaks website. However, it is not as colorful or organized as the other website. When I clicked to the homepage, I found it to be pretty boring and I think that drew me away from a little. It was also more unorganized, but this also could be because there is so much more information on this site. Overall I think this website is perfect in how much information it provides about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Every teacher will more than likely engage with a child who possesses Autism Spectrum Disorder once in their career. They might even have a child with ASD in their classroom. I think it is very important for not only teachers, but everyone to learn more about this disorder. It is a very unique disorder, and there is a lot of information to be learned about it. Most people will come in contact with a person who has Autism. Educating people on this topic can provide information that is very valuable when running into a person with ASD such as how to interact and communicate with them. Another thing I find important is for parents to educate their children on Autism. This can help tremendously in school when the child with Autism is placed in a general education classroom. Teaching your children that there are going to be others in their class that are different is okay, and that they should be friends with them too is important. This paper has helped me to understand more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and will be helpful for me in the future as I take on the career of an educator.
- “Autism.” Autism Noun - Definition, Pictures, Pronunciation And Usage Notes | Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com, www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/autism.
- Bhandari, Smitha. “Autism: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, & Types.” WebMD, WebMD, 22 Oct. 2019, www.webmd.com/brain/autism/understanding-autism-basics#1.
- Heick, Terry. “Autism Awareness Month: 6 Strategies For Teaching Students With Autism.” TeachThought, 24 Oct. 2019, www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/autism-awareness-month-6-strategies-for-teaching-students-with-autism/.
- “Structured Teaching Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Reading Rockets, 18 Dec. 2018, www.readingrockets.org/article/structured-teaching-strategies-students-autism-spectrum-disorder.
- “What Is Autism?” Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism.
- Wise, Rachel. “15 Behavior Strategies for Children on the Autism Spectrum.” IBCCES, 22 Mar. 2019, ibcces.org/blog/2016/07/15/behavior-strategies/.
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