Parents and teachers of children with autism know that a developmental disability can make education difficult. It can be a very frustrating experience for the adults as well as the children, and even a little support can go a long way. If you teach or have a child with autism, keep these options in mind. They can make life easier for everyone and help ensure that children with autism get the education and skills they need to lead successful lives.
Parent Support Groups that Focus on Children with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Having a strong social support system is essential to raising a child with autism. Unfortunately, family members and friends may not understand the emotional toll that raising an autistic child takes on a parent. When that happens, parents should look for support groups where they can meet other people who share their experiences, frustrations and concerns.
Most major cities have support groups specifically designed for the parents of autistic children. If your area has several, consider visiting as many as possible to decide which one fits you best. You want to choose a group that makes you feel comfortable enough to share your experiences, listen to others and exchange information with your peers.
The National Autism Association operates several local chapters throughout the United States. Information about support groups might also be available from:
- School personnel, including special education classroom teachers and special education administrators
- A counselor
- The state’s Department of Mental Health Services
- Local non-profits that work with autism and other developmental disabilities
If these resources fail, you can always turn to the Internet. Your local public librarian can help you search the web for support. Search for support groups near you to learn more about your options. Support for Teachers with Autistic Students
Some of the most common characteristics of autism can make it difficult for educators to teach these students. Students with autism may have:
- Poor social skills that make it difficult to communicate with teachers or peers
- Delayed or absent speech and language skills
- Non-functional routines that interfere with learning
- Unexpected fears or aversions to common items and situations
- Difficulty attending to instruction
Teachers who have limited experience working with special needs students might find these challenging in the classroom. However, correct application of evidence-based and scientifically supported methods consistently yields positive outcomes.
There are a variety of educational resources that can help teachers effectively work with children and youth with autism and autism spectrum disorders. Instructional methods and interventions include those identified by respected organizations that identify practices that have credible evidence that demonstrates their utility, such as the National Standards Project report (http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/national-standards-project/phase-2/).
14 “Evidence-based” interventions
- Behavioral Interventions (includes many different elements)
- Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Package
- Comprehensive Behavioral Treatment for Young Children
- Language Training (Production)
- Natural Teaching Strategies
- Parent Training
- Peer Training Package
- Pivotal Response Training
- Social Skills Package
- Story-based Intervention
18 interventions with an “emerging level of evidence”:
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices
- Exposure Package
- Functional Communication Training
- Imitation-based Intervention
- Initiation Training
- Language Training (Production & Understanding)
- Multi-component Package
- Music Therapy
- Picture Exchange Communication System
- Reductive Package
- Sign Instruction
- Social Communication Intervention
- Structured Teaching
- Technology-based Intervention
Learn More about Specific Teaching Methods
Federal law requires public schools to provide students with disabilities the environments and interventions that they need to succeed. Teachers of students with autism, therefore, may work with a group of educators who specialize in developmental disorders. Teachers who feel that their students aren’t getting the support they need may want to talk about individualized education programs with school administrators.
Teachers can also take classes that will prepare them to effectively educate students with autism.
Sources: http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/naa-local-chapters/ http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/edlite-FAPE504.html http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/national-standards-project/phase-2/