Autism and Inclusion

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Education is a fundamental right if every child and they are also entitled to equal opportunities in the education system. Inclusion in education ensures that every child is given equal opportunity to learn and acquire knowledge regardless of his or her physical, mental, and psychological conditions. Inclusive education covers how the schools, the classroom, the program and the activities are designed to ensure that all students can learn and participate in the activities. Children with ASD often have various challenges grasping concepts in class and as a results, the educators are often required to give them special attention to ensure that they take part in the learning process.

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The case study herein aims to investigate the subject of inclusivity of students with autism in the education sector. The paper examines how the mainstream schools and the entire school system have managed to include policies that cover students with the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The paper also seeks to highlight the main challenges that children with autistic spectrum disorder face in schools and at their homes. The case studies involve cases of various students and the role of teachers in helping them get access to the quality education just like other students. The case study also reviews the role of teachers in assisting students with ASD in and out of the classrooms. Various situations involving various students will be analyzed, and implications highlighted as well as the improvements that would increase the inclusion of children with ASD in the education system.

Autism spectrum disorder can be defined as a developmental disorder in children that affects their communication and how they interact with people (Developmental Diseases and Conditions). It covers a wide range of symptoms such as skills and levels of disability. In other words, autism spectrum disorder refers to a neurological disorder that starts at the childhood level and grows throughout the life of the individual. The ASD mainly affects how an individual interacts with others, how he or she communicates and also his or her cognitive abilities (Dapretto, et al., 2006, p.28). The condition is referred to as a spectrum disorder since people with the ASD disorder can have a wide range of syndromes that affect his or her communication as well as the perception of the environment as it is. People having ASD disorder may have various challenges which include inability to communicate effectively and not being able to grasp concepts faster as they take the time to put things in order (Benson, 2006, p.685). The disorder also affects the concentration of such individuals while addressing various issues hence making them absent minded in some occasions. The ASD condition is caused by various factors and can also be noticed in different stages in the development of the child. Children with ASD often face various difficulties in the classrooms as they take long to grasp concepts and hence they should be given special attention with the teachers to ensure that they are not left behind. Therefore, the paper herein looks at the various ways in which the children who have autism can be included in the entire learning process.

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Students having autism spectrum disorders often offer various challenges and opportunities for the educators who have to find how they can ensure that the children are included in the learning process. However, by implementing appropriate programs, children with ASD can be made part of the developmental progress by the educators (Stoner, at al., 2005, p.32). The numbers of children with ASD in public schools have increased which calls for an intervention to access the educational system to ensure that it is fit for children from all backgrounds. As a result, the education system has created assessment and learning programs that are specifically designed for children with the ASD condition (Lyons, Leon, Phelps and Dunleavy, 2010, p.545). The programs are designed to promote inclusion of the children with ASD condition into the education system.

The term inclusion as used in this paper captures the need for an education system that embraces diversity and all social and physical differences between the children (Lyons, Leon, Phelps and Dunleavy, 2010, p.556). Inclusion ensures that all children are given the same opportunity as their peers. For, example children with disabilities such as ASD are given the same opportunity as others without any disability. Therefore, to ensure inclusion in the education sector, teachers should be committed to creating inclusive classrooms that take care of the needs of all children in the classroom. As noted in the above text, children with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulties in grasping concepts as well as interacting with others, and hence the teachers should pay particular attention to this group of children. Inclusion in education can also be explained by looking at it in the context that all children should be given equal opportunities where they can learn and grow (Joseph, Ehrman, McNally and Keehn, 2008, p.950). As a result, children with any forms of disadvantages such as mental and physical disabilities should be given special attention so that they can also have the same opportunities as their peers.

Most research works show that children with autism are difficult to include in the education system than other students with a disability. The number of children with ASD condition has continued to increase in the mainstream schools a fact that has raised concerns on how this group of students can be included in the education system. The questions are on the role of parents, the schools, the medical practitioners and the teachers in ensuring that the children have equal learning opportunities as the other kids.

In an attempt to promote the inclusion of children with ASD in the education system, the government of the United Kingdom has implemented various policies to ensure that all the children are included in the education system. The policies are designed to ensure that strategies are applied in the mainstream schools to include the ASD children. The policies have evolved since 1944 to present day as the policies were amended to fit the changing demands of educational inclusion.  For example, the 1944 Education Act segregated children with various conditions to learn in different schools where their needs could be met (Joseph, Ehrman, McNally and Keehn, 2008, p.465). However, the Special Education Needs and Disability Act of 2001 presented several adjustments to ensure that students with SEN are included in the education system. Despite putting more efforts in ensuring that children with ASD are included in the system, many families still reported that their children were sent away from school illegally. Also, most of the parents reported that getting their children the right school to support their learning and development process was one of their toughest times. Also, children with autism find the school to be stressful, and they feel a lot of anxiety about attending the daily class activities. As a result of the anxiety, children with autism often miss school. The findings show that there are various shortfalls in the inclusion of children with autistic spectrum disorder in the education system.

The case also shows that autistic children learn in the special schools, mainstream schools, and other special units that are attached to the mainstream schools. The case study covers several students and how they are living their lives with Autism. The students include Jake, Beth, Erick, David, Ellis, and Frankie. The paper looks at their lives with close attention to the role of parents, teachers, and the schools in ensuring the well being of the students (Jang, Dixon, Tarbox and Granpeesheh, 2011, p.1029). A general view of the lives of the students showed that their parents supported them in various ways including doing homework, something that had a positive impact on their learning process. Most of the students went to special schools where they are given a special attention on the entire learning process. Other students showed various skills and interests and their schools were able to support. However, some of them such as Erick displayed some sense and intolerance. Eric is reported as being violent and short-tempered but was more social than the other students. Some of the students also took part in several co-curriculum activities such as participating in choirs, going to clubs, and hanging out with friends (Jang, Dixon, Tarbox and Granpeesheh, 2011, p.1029).

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From the above cases, it is evident that a strategic teaching approach should be applied to ensure that the children with autism are included in the education system. The case also reveals that every child with an ASD condition has special needs and therefore, the teaching strategy should be individualized to ensure that each one of them is given particular attention. Teachers should get special attention to every child to ensure that they take care of their individual needs at personal levels. Since most of the children with ASD often have visual-spatial strengths, teachers can modify their teaching and instructional methods to take advantage of this capability (Randi, Newman and Grigorenko, 2010, p.870). For example, if the teacher wants the student to do something in the classroom such as to keep his books on the shelf, the teacher should demonstrate to the student physically what he wants him to do. Parents also have a significant role in helping their children with autism and ensuring that they blend in the environment. First, the parent should have a strong emotional support to help him or her take care of the child with autism spectrum disorder.  Also, as a strategy to help the child, parents should consider using non-verbal communication approaches while communication with the ASD victims so that they can quickly grasp what is required of them (Krantz, and McClannahan, 1993, p.127).

The current inclusion policies and strategies currently used in the United Kingdom to take care of the children are less effective and require certain levels of improvements. For instance, the teachers and the parents should ensure that they keep a tight and regular schedule for the children. Children with ASD are likely to work well under a highly-structured and strict schedule that determines their daily activities (Randi, Newman and Grigorenko, 2010, p.870). The parents and the teachers could also consider taking motivational dimensions such as rewarding the good behavior whenever displayed by the children. Praising the ASD children when they do the right thing is an important move that motivates them to continue learning new skills and promoting their development.

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Autistic spectrum disorder refers to mental and emotional conditions that affect how children interact with their environment as well as how they perceive various senses and reactions in the environment. Children who are having autism experience various kinds of symptoms which are specific to every child and hence the name spectrum (Lyons, Leon, Phelps and Dunleavy, 2010, p.575). The ASD children often have various problems in learning hence forcing the educators to adopt special ways of attending to the needs of every individual. As a result, the government and several education system stakeholders have developed various methods of ensuring the autistic students are also included in the learning system and are also given the same opportunities.

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  1. Benson, P.R., 2006. The impact of child symptom severity on depressed mood among parents of children with ASD: The mediating role of stress proliferation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(5), pp.685-695.
  2. Dapretto, M., Davies, M.S., Pfeifer, J.H., Scott, A.A., Sigman, M., Bookheimer, S.Y. and Iacoboni, M., 2006. Understanding emotions in others: mirror neuron dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorders. Nature Neuroscience, 9(1), p.28.
  3. Developmental Diseases and Conditions – Autism Spectrum Disorders; New Autism Spectrum Disorders Findings Reported from University of Minnesota (Pharmacogenomics of autism spectrum disorder)”, 2017, Biotech Week, , pp. 206.
  4. Differentiating between autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities in children who failed a screening instrument for ASD. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 37(3), pp.425-436.
  5. Jang, J., Dixon, D.R., Tarbox, J. and Granpeesheh, D., 2011. Symptom severity and challenging behavior in children with ASD. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(3), pp.1028-1032.
  6. Joseph, R.M., Ehrman, K., McNally, R. and Keehn, B., 2008. Affective response to eye contact and face recognition ability in children with ASD. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 14(6), pp.947-955.
  7. Krantz, P.J. and McClannahan, L.E., 1993. Teaching children with autism to initiate to peers: effects of a script‐fading procedure. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26(1), pp.121-132.
  8. Lerman, D.C., Hawkins, L., Hoffman, R. & Caccavale, M. 2013, “Training adults with an autism spectrum disorder to conduct discrete-trial training for young children with autism: a pilot study”, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 465-78.
  9. Lyons, A.M., Leon, S.C., Phelps, C.E.R. and Dunleavy, A.M., 2010. The impact of child symptom severity on stress among parents of children with ASD: The moderating role of coping styles. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(4), pp.516-524.
  10. Maglione, M.A., Gans, D., Das, L., Timbie, J. and Kasari, C., 2012. Nonmedical interventions for children with ASD: Recommended guidelines and further research needs. Pediatrics, 130(Supplement 2), pp.S169-S178.
  11. Montes, G., Halterman, J.S. and Magyar, C.I., 2009. Access to and satisfaction with school and community health services for US children with ASD. Pediatrics, 124(Supplement 4), pp.S407-S413.
  12. R&D Trends: Autism Spectrum Disorders – Unknown Etiology and Low Industry Interest Hinders Pipeline Progression 2011, , New York.
  13. Randi, J., Newman, T. and Grigorenko, E.L., 2010. Teaching children with autism to read for meaning: Challenges and possibilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(7), pp.890-902.
  14. Stoner, J.B., Bock, S.J., Thompson, J.R., Angell, M.E., Heyl, B.S. and Crowley, E.P., 2005. Welcome to our world: Parent perceptions of interactions between parents of young children with ASD and education professionals. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(1), pp.39-51.
  15. Taylor, M.J. 2005, “Teaching students with autistic spectrum disorders in HE”, Education & Training, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 484-495.
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