Autism

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Autism spectrum disorders are caused by abnormalities in the brain that affect the neurodevelopment system and no single cause has been found (Grandin p.30). Some early indicators of autism are Lack of eye contact, lack of attention to the same item or topic another person is focusing on when interacting with that person, lack of reciprocal conversation, and atypical sensory/motor processing. Students who are diagnosed with autism have deficits in five areas: communication, socialization and social skills, breadth of interests, sensory integration, and behavior. Although they may have deficits in some of these areas, they tend to excel in other areas of school, such as math, science, music or art.

In elementary school, a teacher can help an autistic student by giving the student time to respond, avoiding long strings of verbal directions, respecting sensory sensitivities, and avoiding vague language. By giving a student time to respond, it helps the autistic individual time to process the information and come up with an answer or description. Autistic students have a hard time following long strings of directions verbally, so if there is a list the teacher should write it down for the student. This will prevent the autistic student from forgetting anything and getting frustrated. Many autistic children are greatly affected by sensory sensitivities; a great example of this being sound or light. If separate quiet rooms are provided for the student, it will help the student focus more. Lastly, when working with an autistic student, the teacher should avoid vague language; a specific list should be given to the student to follow.

With older students, per say high school, different steps should be taken to aid the autistic student. These steps include developing the student’s strengths, developing social skills through shared interests, and finding and being a mentor. Autistic students tend to excel in one aspect of their life, whether it be in school or a hobby....
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