Click on the picture to view the SRC meeting and go to 55:15 to view Richard’s testimony.
The Autism Spectrum
Typically Developing Children
I have been meaning to speak to you about Autism for some time now and apologize for not doing so sooner. The study of Autism is my Greatest passion and it will remain so for the rest of my life. So will my advocacy for children on the “Autism Spectrum.”
As you may know, my just turned 4 year old grandson has been diagnosed as moderately autistic and is presently in the “early interventions” program at the DCIU. He receives the best possible education there from highly qualified tenured teachers in a public school setting. They are absolutely awesome teachers and the progress he has made is awesome to watch.
Since he was diagnosed at age 2, I have studied and read so much about the “autism spectrum.” We know so little about autism, what it actually is or is not, and how it progresses. We do not even have a medical or diagnostic test which can say for sure whether a child even has the “it” of autism. In fact, we do not even know what really causes autism.
Autism is presently diagnosed with a checklist of behaviors which have been associated with autism. About 24 depending on the checklist which is used. If a child displays a few of those behaviors, they are diagnosed as autistic. Approximately 1 in 64 children are diagnosed as being “On the Autism Spectrum.”
It is a very broad spectrum and autism emerges in children in very different ways. No two children are the same. Their IEPS are very different and individualized. Most children identified as autistic are moderately autistic.
What neurologists have said is that for the “neurons in children’s brains” to develop normally, autistic children need to be with “typically developing children.” That is even a flaw in my grandson’s IEP.
Young children learn most from imitation and interaction. Autistic children are most often visual learners and discovery learners. They are amazing children who just see things differently and learn things differently.
What is common among autistic children because of their social anxiety is that they need “stability” and “consistency.” They do not handle change well.
The DCIU does have what is called a “reverse mainstreaming class” where typically developing children are brought to the IU and autistic children and typically developing children are educated in the same classroom at the ages of 4 or 5. After that they go to their neighborhood schools, where they have many opportunities to be taught with typically developing children.
We as a community of educators should take a hard look at how we are educating our autistic children. My advocacy for autism awareness is just beginning.