January 10th, 2018
Teaching children with Autism.
Autism is a rare condition that develops in children and is characterized by developmental impairments that are manifested through social interactions and communication in children. Children afflicted by this condition may exhibit pervasive behaviors and tendencies that make it hard to interact with other normal children (Cowan and Allen, 2007). The antisocial behavior exhibited by these children has always meant that it is impossible to educate autistic children with their normal counterparts since their results will be poor. Therefore, it has always been the practice since time immemorial to have special schools and programs being prepared to educate autistic children. With new pedagogical skills being forged regularly driven by technological advancement, it is expected that revolution should also take place in the way autistic children are taught. The most important thing is to understand their hyperactivity and design programs that can address the root cause of problem because these children are certainly normal and their problem is that they perceive things differently (Campbell, et al., 2004).
As Campbell, et al., (2004) point out, there is a federal requirement in US that disabled children should be allowed to learn with their normal peers unless other special conditions impede it but for the case of autistic children is different. Autistic children are being educated exclusively in increased isolated environments from those of their normal peers. This seclusion has been argued that it increases among other things behavioral modeling which arguments the efforts expended towards teaching autistic children. However, the down side of this is that it becomes hard for the society to view such children as normal since they are treated as special.
Among the ways through which autistic children can be taught is through naturalistic tendencies as advocated for by Cowan and Allen (2007). This approach entails preparing the learning environment in such a way that it is appealing to the child. From the environment, other aspects of learning are incorporated into teaching modalities of the child slowly for the best outcomes.
Another aspect that has proved to be effective in imparting knowledge in autistic children is Pivotal Response Teaching (PRT). According to Stahmer et al. (2010), PRT is a behavioral based naturalistic intervention measure that is aimed at educating autistic children. The interventions can either be multi-structured to accommodate many children or they can be custom made to suit a particular child with special autistic tendencies. These interventions can sometimes have setbacks that are manifested through Discrete Trial Training (DTT). DTT is simply incompatibility of the multi-structured program to different situations. Reinvention of teaching in autism has seen the birth of new and better pedagogy skills such as incidental and milieu teaching among many others which overcome DTT with ease. All of the new teaching skills are anchored on the same platform but they target different learning objectives (Stahmer et al. 2010).
This topic has changed my perception on autistic children because I have always viewed them as being selfish children. However, after doing some research on their condition through this assignment, I have come to the realization that they require special attention and handling that is different from normal children. My perception is also held by many people which is in total contrast of the truth. Although these children have antisocial pervasiveness, it is not by their design but the predisposition of autism through their perception.
Campbell, J.M., Ferguson, J.E., Herzinger, C.V., Jackson, J.N. & Marino, C.A. (2004). Combined descriptive and explanatory information improves peers’ perceptions of autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, (25), 321–339
Cowan, R. J. and Allen, K. D. (2007). Using Naturalistic Procedures To Enhance Learning In Individuals With Autism: A Focus On Generalized Teaching Within The School Setting. Psychology in the Schools, 44(7), 701-717
Stahmer, A. C., Suhrheinrich, J., Reed, S., Bolduc, C. and Schreibman, L. (2010). Pivotal Response Teaching in the Classroom Setting. Preventing School Failure, 54(4), 265–274