The main principle of autism education is that each person with autism has their own strengths, abilities, and functional level. Their education should be tailored to meet their individual requirements and it is required by federal law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act guarantees free and appropriate public education for every child with a disability.
This law specifies that a written education plan (the Individualized Education Plan, or IEP) be prepared by the local education authority in consultation with the child's parents. When all parties agree on the plan, the plan must be put into place and the child's progress documented. Preparation of the plan includes a comprehensive assessment of the child's needs.
Good luck with that!!
In many ways a child with autism does not learn the same way other children learn. For some children it seems as if they grow up on "auto-pilot". We don't have lessons on language, but they pick it up any way. We don't teach them to walk, run, jump,or play, but they learn on their own how to do all these things. Kids without autism are able to pay attention to the important things and to shut out the unimportant things. They pick up the natural cues around them to learn how to imitate and to create new behaviors.
Kids with autism have a difficult time focusing on what is important and usually need specific training to teach specific skills. However, kids with autism do learn. Like all kids, they want things and learn ways to get them. In most cases, kids without autism eventually learn to use language and appropriate behavior to get the things they want. Kids with autism may not learn so easily. Instead, they learn other ways to get their needs met. They may scream, hit or throw a tantrum to get what they want.
Think of kids with autism as great independent problem-solvers and they always take the easy way out (just like all kids). Sometimes what they want is to be left alone. They may learn that their behavior can effectively back people away and get them things they want. Tantrums are nothing more than a learned response to get the child with autism something he wants - either something he desires to have (like a cookie) or something he desires to avoid (like work or physical contact).
All children learn the wrong things at times. Children without autism can often be retrained rather easily but when kids with autism learn the wrong things, for some reason these things stick with them - sometimes for years. Autism education focuses on teaching appropriate behavior.
When an autistic child of six has learned wrong behavioral tactics for three to four years, you may have a difficult problem on your hands. Getting them to learn a new way to get what they want, will take a lot of time. First you must teach him that the old way no longer works. That means ignoring the tantrums (which can be very hard to do) and giving a consequence for aggressive behaviors (which can be even harder to do). Depending upon the age and size of the child, these things can be next to impossible to accomplish. Like I said earlier, even if your child is past age three, it can still be done. It will just be harder.
Autism education is not just for the individual with autism. Parents and other siblings need to learn how to help the autistic child master some social skills and modify anti-social behaviors. Their training requirements reach far beyond the classroom environment. Regular classroom teachers should not be expected to teach your autistic child the social behaviors that a majority of the children in society know before they get to school.
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