Autism is a neurological disorder that effects the brains functioning, although psychological problems can surface because of the biological issues. It can range from mild to severe cases. It is not restricted to a certain gender, however it is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls. Signs of autism usually occur within the first three years of life. These can be recognised by developmental difficulties. It is becoming widely recognised as a disability. With the aid of different perspectives, policies and practices it can be supported and treated in the appropriate manner.
There are many different perspectives on autism. Each of them has a different insight into autism. Specialist medical practitioners such as Dr. Bauman, and Dr. Thomas Kemper, alongside scientists have been entangled in autism research since 1983. They understand the disorder is a wide spectrum of different behaviours. Autistic spectrum Disorders (ASD). Through research scientists have confirmed that biology is the reason for autism.
It indicates that autism can be a result of several altered genes by interfering with the brain chemical message system that guides brain development. Insights into genetics show that autistic people have abnormalities in the cerebellar brain regions. This causes defects in sensory, language, cognitive and attention functions. http://web.sfn.org/content/Publications/BrainBriefings/autism.html Autistic children are emotionally and socially withdrawn, it appears as though they are very much involved in their own thoughts and feelings.
This tends to mean they barely notice other children around them. They usually repeatedly play with a small number of objects such as an item of clothing. They will often keep this very close and will repeat the same movements over and over again. An autistic child becomes very distressed if there is any change in their environment e.g. they will not explore a new toy. They rarely exchange eye contact and speech, which makes it very hard for social interaction through play. G.C.Davenport. (1994) An Introduction to Child Development, second edition. Collins Educational. London. (170-171).
There is evidence that autism is a neurobiological disorder and not parental behaviour due factors such as epilepsy occurring in autistic people. However the parents have their own perspective on autism due to their own experiences of their child. It is useful for parents of an autistic child to talk to others with affected children about their experiences and what they have found effective in helping their child. Such groups as ‘parents help parents’ found by parents of those children in the United States with special needs (1976) enable them to do this. http://www.php.com/dopage/aboutmain/ The parents take on different roles towards the child including researcher and teacher as well as a caregiver.
First Signs, Inc. is an organisation that was founded in 1998 by a parent of a child who had developmental problems. It is aimed at parents to inform them on the early warning signs of autism. Donna Williams is autistic and has published many books, the most well known been Nobody Nowhere, (1992) where she relived her experiences and the labels she was given throughout life. Children with autism help others to understand their own way of thinking and perspectives. There are conferences such as “spectromites” where individuals on the autistic spectrum can discuss ideas and opportunities. However a difficulty is that their perspective are likely to be blinded by their situation.
The Individuals Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires the state to provide free public education for those children with disabilities. Most children with autism are covered under this act. Some children with Aspergers or pervasive developmental disorders that are high functioning will receive services through section 504, which is the rehabilitation act of 1973.
One of the first pieces of advice given to parents or caregivers would be to obtain an assessment from a professional who has expertise in autism. Law states this has to be completed within 50 days. One of the advantages of a private expert is that parents are given the opportunity of free services from their child’s educational agency. These include school health services and social work services in schools. Parents are entitled to these by law. An assessment can be requested from the local education agency (LEA) free of charge. However this may lead to misdiagnosis of their child due to the lack of expertise on autism.
Once an autistic child qualifies for special education there are a number of different educational procedures that can be offered. ‘Applied Behaviour Analysis’, other wise known as Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) and Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) are the two main strategies. Some schools may only provide one strategy, although this may not be effective as an autistic child may respond more to one strategy than another, or they may prefer a combination of strategies. Children with autism can improve their hand skills, speech and sensory problems through occupational therapy.