Mini Paper 2
Prepared by: Jacqueline BoilyCourse: 0801-670-01
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that affects all areas of behavior and perception. Approximately 10 out of every 10,000 children are diagnosed with autism and four out of five are males. Autism is the third most common developmental disability, more common than Down Syndrome. Children with Autism are characterized by impairment in several areas of development such as: Cognitive, Language, Play/Socialization skills and exhibit many challenging behaviors. Behavior Patterns of Autism:
Difficulty mixing with other children
Acts as if deaf- may have normal hearing but not comprehend language.
Resists learning- about 75% measured IQs below 70.
No fear of real danger- their sense of touch may not register pain, many are unable to speak and are oblivious to pain.
Resists change in routine- any break in the routine can be overwhelmingly distressful for the child.
Uses people as “tools” to satisfy needs
Inappropriate laughing and giggling
Not cuddly, resists being held
No eye contact- may have normal vision but not understand what they see.
Inappropriate attachments to objects
Spins objects, sustained odd play- spinning objects, rocking or hand flapping may occur for hours.
Destructive and aggressive at times
May be self-injurious- face slapping, biting, and head banging.
Impairment in communication- delay in or total lack of, the development of spoken language. Impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain conversation. They often engage in strange language and speaking behavior such as echolalia (repeating back only what has been said to them).
How Autism Affects Functioning in School:
Autism is a disability that can create a barrier between the individual and his or her friends, family, and community. This disability often interferes with an individual’s ability to communicate, interact with others, engage in play or leisure skills, and to relate to the world around them. People with autism may exhibit repetitive movements, have unusual responses to people, be resistant to change and demonstrate aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior.
As a teacher who works in a school for children with autism, I have seen first hand how the families are affected by the disability of their child. The parents in my school have shown tremendous strength and support for their children, contributing positively to their quality of life. They come into school and learn how to work with their child, have continuous contact with the teacher, and tremendously help the school with fundraising efforts. I have been lucky enough to see the positive effects that parent support can have on a child with autism, but I am sure that there are many cases that are opposite of this. Having a child with autism does put a great strain on all family members, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
There are several interventions that are available for those with autism. The interventions are separated into the following categories: educational, psychological, medical, and behavioral. Educational intervention is dependent on the age and functional level of the individual involved. The goal is to prepare them for a life in the community that is considered to be the least restrictive. Each child diagnosed with autism is provided with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), which contains both long and short-term goals. The main focus of these goals is to aid in such areas as communication, language, social skills, and self-help skills.
There have a few been psychological interventions, which have been criticized due to the lack of empirical evidence. The bases of these interventions are to repair emotional damage and resolve inner conflict. They hope to remedy faulty relationships that develop between children and parents that result in the child’s eventual withdrawal. In earlier years, medical interventions were used such as shock treatments and surgery however; these methods were proven to be unethical. Research on drug therapy, such as anticonvulsant and dopamine medication, has shown mixed results for individuals diagnosed with autism.
Currently I am a teacher at a school that uses the technique of applied behavioral analysis to teach children with autism. We utilize discrete trial instruction, positive and negative reinforcement, behavioral contracts, data analysis, and various other methods in order to treat the individual students. Over the past two years I have seen the children in my school make great strides in such areas as academics, self-help skills, peer interaction, communication, and appropriate behavior. Applied behavioral analysis is a very intensive therapy that requires much effort from all involved. Regardless of the type of intervention used, autism is a very unique disability that requires patience and support from all individuals involved in helping the child. In most cases the ultimate goal is to prepare individuals with autism to live in their home community and in its least restrictive setting.
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