23 November 2012
When I was in middle school, I went to this summer camp and met this little Autistic girl. She was very sweet, but I noticed there was something different about her. If I called her name she wouldn’t respond, and sometimes she wouldn’t talk much. I did not know her for very long because we were in different age groups but when I found out she was Autistic, it sparked an interest in working with special needs students. What is Autism? “Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3 that adversely affects a child’s educational performance” (Hunt and Marshal 279). Autistic students have problems with communicating. Part of the communication problem is a problem with understanding metaphors. For instance, if you tell an Autistic student that it is raining cats and dogs outside, they will assume that there are cats and dogs falling from the sky. Autism is part of a group of developmental disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders. “ASDs include a wide continuum: Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder not otherwise specified, Asperger's Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (Friedlander 141). Some of these are familiar and common and some are not. Asperger’s syndrome is a version of high functioning Autism. There are a few main ways to teach Autistic students: resource classrooms, where a student is in a specific special education classrooms, where a student gets their social skills instruction in a resource classroom but the rest of their instruction in a mainstream classroom, or inclusion. In an inclusion setting a students get both their social skills instruction and their regular lessons all in the same classroom. Getting both social skills instruction and regular lessons in the same classroom is the best way to teach autistic students. There is a long and interesting history behind the discovery and development of Autism as a disorder. Kranner first observed autism in 1943. Kranner “observed that the children in his study all exhibited what he called ‘‘extreme autistic aloneness,’’ the tendency to ignore, shut out, or fail to respond to input coming from the surrounding social environment” (Beneron 3). This is still observed in Autism today. Autistic students tend to shut out the world to live in their own special place in their head. “The absorption with the inner world, seen in both autistic children and schizophrenics, led many clinicians to conclude that early infantile autism was a childhood form of schizophrenia—an incorrect theory that prevailed into the early seventies” (Beneron 4). With so many similarities to schizophrenia, it is no surprise that early diagnosticians diagnosed Autism as childhood schizophrenia. The children the Kranner observed had severe limitations in awareness and interest of social interactions that seems to become less severe as they grew up. “Kranner laid the groundwork for understanding autism as a condition primarily defined by the inability to relate to people in the typical way” (Beneron 7). While non-Autistic students can easily and quickly make friends and socialize with peers an Autistic student, will have a lot of difficulty forming relationships and socializing with others preferring to be alone than to interact with others. The other big name in Autism is Hans Asperger. Hans Asperger “believed that autism could differ in severity bringing to light that Autism is a spectrum disorder” (Wenzel and Rowley 44). In addition, he recognized a new classification of Autism now called Asperger’s syndrome. There are several symptoms of Autism. The first symptom is “highly specific types of language oddities; failure to respond when called by name” (Beneron 5). If a teacher calls to an Autistic student the same way they would call on a typical student they...
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