|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Mental health Mental disorder Autism Psychological disorder|
Autism disorder or as often referred to; autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurological and developmental disorder characterized by impairment in communication and social interaction. Patients with this disorder similarly exhibit unusual patterns in interests and perception (Zander, 1). The word spectrum is used because the disorder presents a range of variations in the severity, type and symptoms. Autism disorder is a lifelong condition that affects individuals of all races, ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic status. However, certain individuals are at a higher risk of having the disorder based on their familial background of the disorder, the age of their parents (older parents), low birth way and other underlying genetic disorders like downs syndrome. Individuals with this disorder often exhibit irregular social interaction, repetitive behavior, irritability and sleep problems. Since autism is a developmental disorder, diagnosis is impossible until a child attains two to three years. Screening is often done for children exhibiting developmental delays. While this disorder is attributed to negative impacts on the victim, this is not always the case. Autistic individuals can be keen auditory and visual learners, have long term memory of detailed information and be excellent in certain areas such as math, science and art and music. Autism is a limiting condition to many individuals, and it is, therefore, crucial to learn of its history, impacts on learning and plans set aside in educational programs to tackle this limitation, as well as the legal framework underlying the implementation of these programs.
Autism disorder was first established or described by an American psychologist Leo Kanner in 1943. Kanner noted a trend in a subgroup of children who had already been diagnosed by other mental disorders as they had a distinctive way of failing to associate with and relate to everyday situations and people (Kita and Hosokawa, 149). Before this, children with autism were viewed as other mentally disabled or ill children, and this ignorance had adverse effects on education. This was majorly contributed by the children's inability to communicate, use language and other abstract concepts within the learning environment. Public schools were therefore out of bounds to these students, and often, these students could be shipped to institutions that resembled like prisons, or in other cases be homeschooled by their parents. Public schools, therefore, were not designed to accommodate these children, and with such alienation, isolation and hatred, the academic, and social lives of these children and their families were unbearable.
The 1960's however paved the way for a new era where these children were rightfully identified as autistic, and granted a chance to be part of the public schools. In 1961, John F. Kennedy, a former United States president formed a panel that dealt with mental retardation, and four years later, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was created to allow for the accessibility of education (Raiti, 2). This was a fight by the parents towards the equality of their children, and it bore fruit. 1975 marked the implementation of the individuals with disabilities education act IDEA that granted parents and affected children the right to education, to nondiscriminatory evaluation and identification, and from paying extra costs. The least restrictive environment principle within this act provided for the unlimited presence of the autistic and mentally retarded children in the class with their fellow 'normal' students unless their presence was a disruption. IDEA catered for 95% of school-aged and teenage student's enrollment in regular schools. However, the legislation did not eliminate the discrimination and stigma these students faced.
Allowing these children a chance to education was not just enough. The students were often banned from certain subjects due to their inability to grasp the concepts. While others were punished by being separated from the rest. There needed to be specialized forms of instruction, and this led to the individualized education program where the specific needs of students would be accounted for. The modern-day schooling experience for children with autism has been made worthwhile due to early interventions. Students are given learning aids such as visual books with basic labels to assist them in verbalizing. The teachers or paraprofessionals also require to have adequate training to be able to effectively interact and teach these students (Raiti, 6). The classroom setups are also crucial autistic children might be destructed with too much visual and tactile things around them, and hence the classroom must be as clutter free as possible. Schedules are also vital, and any changes made must be communicated to the children in advance.
Over the years, autism has been a disorder that has been gradually yet successfully understood and managed by individuals at different levels. This advancement has been conducted from the point of a lack of definitiveness in the matter to its discovery, and hence the formulation of ways to manage it. The education sector has been among the many others that have had to make adjustments to accommodate these individuals, and this has been a journey altogether. The use of the multi-faceted intervention in various sectors has hence granted them a chance to be as social, functional and effective as possible and this has dramatically reduced the margin created by stigmatization and discrimination.
Kita Y. and Hosokawa T. history of autism spectrum disorders. 2011. Volume 59 isssue 2. Pp. 148-165. https://www2.sed.tohoku.ac.jp/library/nenpo/contents/59-2/59-2-09.pdfRaiti C. evolution of autism in public schooling. Education reform past and present. 2014. Pp. 1-11.
https://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2014/04/evolution-of-autism-in-public-schooling/Zander E. An introduction to autism. 2005. Pp. 1-4. http://habilitering.se/sites/habilitering.se/files/introduktion_om_autism_engelska.pdf
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