As recently as a generation ago, children who were autistic could be put away in “homes” and “institutions” and were not allowed to pursue a normal life. Today there are many organizations, groups, and sources of professional help to turn to.
Children with autism may not develop at the “normal” rate, nor mature by the same physical and mental means as other children. But, with today's professional resources, many can grow to have a significantly normal life. They can learn to function reasonably well in their own world and still meet the demands and expectations of the outside world.
Parents and teachers of children with autism sometimes struggle to determine where they should start and what they should do first. Well, it's generally accepted the first thing they need to do is have the child properly evaluated to determine where on the autism spectrum disorder table, a particular child
belongs. This diagnosis is a critical first step and will aid in identifying strengths and weaknesses that can be managed in future behavioral environments, including the classroom.
Increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with autism and schools are challenged to implement, then manage special education programs with increasing student enrollment not matched by teacher availability. Each student's educational needs may be unique because of specific learning disabilities.
Therefore, low student-teacher ratios can be very important. When you include the emotional and behavioral disabilities that often accompany special needs students, it is not hard to imagine the challenge special education programs are facing.
Specialized, but highly individualized instruction is a key component to help students achieve meaningful academic progress. Teachers and supporting staff must be provided with the materials and training to meet each student's educational needs. To help children with autism become more productive
and independent, schools must use or develop specific measures to carefully monitor student progress.
Systematic use of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help monitor both academic and social progress is a common provision for many private and public specialized education programs. Insurance coverage of ABA services is limited, however there aren't many recognized meaningful alternatives to choose from.
Instructional strategies should include safe and structured environments where children with autism can develop increasing knowledge and skills required to function independently in real life scenarios. When possible, classroom instruction should be supplemented with community experiences to include visits to public parks, shopping, restaurants, libraries, etc. Monitored social interactions can be an important developmental measure that helps autistic children cope with and prepare for life outside of school.
Occupational therapy, parent training, speech and language therapy, behavioral interventions, etc., are all common vernacular in the autism support services world. When they are carefully coordinated with classroom curricula and supporting activities, they can provide students, parents and teachers with
meaningful progress measurement opportunities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) http://idea.ed.gov/ is a public law covering services to children and regulating how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services . IDEA Part B covers ages (3-21) and IDEA Part C covers infants, toddlers age (birth-2 years). Parents and teachers of children with autism may review related resources.