Are Schools Prepared to Help Children with Autism?
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Are Schools Helping Children with Autism?
Are schools adequately prepared to handle autism? The answer is almost always no. Many professionals that work in schools do not have specific training when it comes to autism and school budget cuts prevent staff at schools from receiving specific training related to autism.
Some schools are fortunate enough to have trained behavior therapists on their staff, but most schools do not have nearly the budget to allow for the extra employee with specific autism training.
This leaves many special education teachers struggling to meet the needs of autistic children everywhere because these teachers are being put into a situation in which they do not have a lot of training in and school budgets prevent schools from sending special education teachers to get specific training when it comes to autism.
It is hard to prepare and train for autism as there are so many different functioning levels of autism. The tricky thing about autism is that it looks entirely different from person to person. The saying is true that if you have met one person with autism then you have only met one person with autism.
We must continue to work hard to raise awareness about how autism affects children in schools. What supports are in place for children with autism at the school level are almost always academic supports to simply help them with their studies without providing any kind of social interventions at all. This is what is needed most in the schools because a lot of these children with autism would be able to do just fine in academics if it were not for the social barriers and challenges that they face daily.
If we could somehow bring the social supports in and put goals that are social in individualized education plans I think we would see a higher success right both socially and academically in the schools.
It is worth noting that it is likely grades would go up as social skills go up. Anytime someone can make friends easier and get along with society it would make sense that it would have a direct effect not only on a person’s mental well being but also their ability to be able to concentrate and work on school projects with more ease.
Some schools do a decent job with low functioning autism or what we would typically think of as classic autism. That is because classic autism has been known for years and decades. It is this newly found end of the high functioning side of the autism spectrum that schools have a difficult time understanding. That is because Asperger Syndrome and many of the traits to the high functioning side of autism were not even included in the manual for making mental health diagnosis or psychiatric diagnosis until 1994.
As a young child in school my teachers did not have the training or knowledge about Asperger Syndrome or the high functioning side of the autism spectrum they would have needed to be able to catch it and pull me out for testing. They likely just thought that I was a weird child with some weird social skills and behaviors, but this simply was not the case.
Most of my teachers would have went to college long before Asperger Syndrome was introduced as something that could be diagnosed so there was not a lot of training or resources available to the teachers I had growing up that would have allowed them to identify my autism in the form of Asperger Syndrome.
For years teachers have been left out in the cold with no training on the high functioning side of the autism spectrum and this has caused the system to fail a lot of kids with autism in the school system. This is just now something that our country in America seems to finally be taking notice of and we are in the beginning phase of trying to do something about it.
Through the early 2000’s there was a misconception that Asperger Syndrome and autism were not the same thing. This separation of diagnosis really made it difficult because people often assumed that Asperger Syndrome was not a severe disability or not as hard as having autism. That simply is not a true statement as there are many people with Asperger Syndrome who have a very difficult time socially interacting and making friends and that causes them to not be able to function sometimes.
This is one reason why in the mid 2010’s Asperger Syndrome was eliminated as a medical diagnosis. It just didn’t make sense to split Autism and Asperger Syndrome up anymore when they were the same thing. Dividing the two made it harder for children with Asperger Syndrome to receive educational support because it was labeled as a completely different diagnosis than autism. Once we make all of it autism then all kids with any form of autism should have equal rights to be able to have the same amount of help as their peers. There won’t be one child with autism being denied services because he is too high functioning.
Teachers are some of the most dedicated individuals you will ever see. There is nothing like having the tools to be able to help a child be more successful. Teachers today are extremely dedicated to the well being of children with autism. Sadly, they often do not get a lot of support in educating themselves on these issues because of school administrations not having the funding to be able to provide good training for teachers.
Teachers sometimes seek out training on their own. This can be quite expensive and paying for it out of pocket can be a tremendous burden for someone, but teachers see the need to be better educated on autism which is wonderful, and we are now beginning to see school services improve some because of teacher dedication and understanding.
It is good that teachers are willing to listen to people with autism. It helps because people with autism have the best understanding of how someone with autism thinks and if we can get teachers to think like someone with autism thinks then we will really be able to begin getting teachers on the same