What is the impact on children with autism in a mainstream school?- Holly Tabor Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is typically diagnosed in early childhood, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. Autism spectrum disorder (also known as ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in someone’s brain. Less people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Genetic factors are approximate to contribute 40 to 80 percent of ASD risk. The risk from gene combined with environmental risk factors, such as parental age, birth complications, and others that have not been identified can determine an individual's risk of developing this condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. Autism is a developmental disorder that can also affect communication, social interaction, and behavior. People with autism often have difficulty understanding social cues, making eye contact, and engaging in conversations. They may also have repetitive behaviours and interests. One of the defining characteristics of autism is difficulty with social interaction. Children with autism may have difficulty making eye contact, understanding social cues, and developing relationships with others. They may also have difficulty with communication, including both verbal and nonverbal communication. Some children with autism may struggle with speech, while others may have difficulty understanding the nuances of language. The brain of a person with autism processes information differently to those of people without autism. The brain shows less coordinated activity in autism. But its not certain individuals brain regions themselves also work differently in autism. An organisation set out to answer this question by using a brain scanner to compare the resting brain activity of high-functioning people with autism to that of people without autism. In both groups, the networks of the brain regions increased and decreased with their activity in predictable patterns. But individuals with autism, sensory areas of the brain showed more random activity than in individuals without autism. The most random activity occurred in those with the most severe autism. This suggests that the brains of people with autism cannot hold onto and process sensory input for as long as those of neurotypical people. in contrast, a brain region called the caudate showed the opposite pattern, being more predictable in individuals with autism. The most predictable activity occurred in those individuals with the most inflexible, repetitive behaviors. These differences in this neural randomness appear to result from changes in the structure of the individual brain regions. These findings of Watanabe et al. suggest that changes in the structure and activity of small brain regions give rise to complex symptoms in autism. If these differences also exist in young children, they could help doctors diagnose autism earlier on. Individuals with autism can act in many ways for example, they could find it hard to interact or communicate with other individuals also find it hard to understand how others think or feel in certain situations. Another thing people with ASD can also find things like bright lights or loud noises to be overwhelming, uncomfortable or stressful, they can also feel anxious during unfamiliar situations or social events. individuals can also take longer to understand certain information in a situation also they can do the same thing over and over as comfort management. Autism is typically diagnosed in early childhood, although some individuals may not receive a diagnosis until later in life. The cause of autism is not fully understood, but it's believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no medication for autism directly, however many children with autism take medication to help with related issues like anxiety, hyperactivity and aggression. Medication can help with behaviour issues, which can make it possible for a child to stay at home or continue in a mainstream school rather than going into a specialized or Behavioral school. There is only two medication that is approved by the FDA for children with autism which are Abilify and Risperdal. Both of these are antipsychotic medications that can help with irritability and aggression. Medication can also be helpful for kids who also have another diagnosis. For example, a child who has autism and ADHD might benefit from taking Adderall for their ADHD symptoms. But there is a lot of controversy about whether medication is used too much for autistic kids. Some people who have autism themselves say that medication is a way to control autistic people’s behavior . They also argue that therapy and education are more helpful to socialise and talk about what's going on in their head. Experts also worry about families who don’t have access to specialized therapy due to the long waiting lists, they might use medication just because it’s their only option to try and calm the autistic or ADHD symptoms. Antipsychotic medication for children with autism is also concerning because it may come with not too nice side effects. If a child is taking Risperdal or Abilify, they should be monitored carefully by a doctor for side effects, including weight gain and hormonal changes which can happen unfortunately.
Children with autism face unique challenges, especially in mainstream schools. They may have difficulty with social interaction, communication, sensory processing, and academic tasks. Teachers can create a supportive environment by providing accommodations such as visual aids, sensory breaks, and social skills training. It's important to recognize that each child with autism is unique and may require individualized support. One of the biggest challenges for children with autism is social interaction. They may have difficulty understanding social cues, making eye contact, and engaging in conversations. Teachers can help by providing social skills training and opportunities for social interaction. Visual aids such as social stories and picture schedules can also be helpful. Sensory processing is another challenge for children with autism. These tools can help children with autism understand what is expected of them and what will happen next. They can also help children with autism communicate their needs and wants more effectively. They may be oversensitive or under sensitive to sensory input, which can affect their ability to learn and participate in classroom activities. Teachers can provide sensory breaks, such as time in a quiet room or access to sensory tools like fidget toys. Academic tasks can also be challenging for children with autism. They may have difficulty with organization, time management, and completing tasks independently. Teachers can provide visual aids such as checklists and schedules, and break tasks down into smaller steps. With the right support, children with autism can thrive in mainstream schools and reach their full potential. It's important for teachers to recognize the unique needs of each child with autism and provide individualized support. By creating a supportive environment and providing accommodations, teachers can help children with autism succeed in school and beyond. At school, children with autism may have trouble expressing their needs, wants, and feelings. Another approach is to use assistive technology, such as communication apps, speech-generating devices, and text-to-speech software. These tools can help children with autism communicate more effectively and independently. They can also help children with autism participate more fully in classroom activities and social interactions. Teachers and support staff can work with children with autism to create a communication plan that meets their needs. This plan should take into account the child's strengths and challenges, as well as their individual communication style. It should also involve the child's family and other professionals, such as speech therapists and occupational therapists.
Children with autism have unique needs and challenges that may affect their ability to succeed in a mainstream school setting. Some parents and educators believe that children with autism should be placed in special education programs or schools, while others argue that they should be included in mainstream classrooms. The decision of whether or not to include children with autism in mainstream schools is a complex one that requires careful consideration of the child's individual needs and abilities. One argument for including children with autism in mainstream schools is that it promotes social inclusion and diversity. When children with autism are included in mainstream classrooms, they could interact with their peers and develop social skills. They also have access to a wider range of academic and extracurricular activities, which can help them develop their strengths and interests. Another argument for including children with autism in mainstream schools is that it prepares them for life after school. In the real world, people with autism will need to interact with a variety of people and situations. By including them in mainstream schools, they can learn how to navigate social situations and work with others who may have different abilities and perspectives. However, there are also arguments against including children with autism in mainstream schools. One argument is that it may be overwhelming and stressful for them. Children with autism may struggle with sensory overload, loud noises, and other stimuli that are common in mainstream classrooms. They may also have difficulty with transitions and changes in routine, which can be disruptive to the classroom. Another argument against including children with autism in mainstream schools is that they may not receive the individualized attention and support they need. Children with autism may require specialized instruction, accommodations, and therapies that are not available in mainstream classrooms. They may also require more one-on-one attention from teachers and support staff, which can be challenging in a classroom with many students. Not all children diagnosed with autism will have to go to a specialist school, for example my cousin and younger brother (6 and 12 years old) have autism, they are both in mainstream schools. Although they are in a mainstream school, they have not found it easy to fit in or adapt to the learning curriculum that teachers must follow. Both family members have acted out at times at school due to sensory overload and the teacher do put it down to naughty behaviour which sometimes isn’t the case. Minor adjustments can benefit these children attending mainstream school for example teachers that are specialised in this can help. Although some mainstream schools say that they are not equipped to teach children with autism adequately and can’t provide a safe environment for these children, but this can be easily adapted for the mild to moderate children with ASD allowing a positive view on education. I have experience with autism my brother Thomas, he’s 6 years old although not diagnose with Autism yet he shows many of the autistic traits. For example, he doesn’t understand emotions very well, he doesn’t understand how he is feeling so he results to anger and aggression. Loud noises make him feel uncomfortable, he had to wear his headphones to a small concert we went too as he can't cope with the loudness. Another thing is he must be with someone in the household, if I'm in my room I must leave my door open for him to be able to sit in his room and play. He also likes a routine to his day, he has to know what he's doing that day, weather someone to coming over or just popping to the shop and if it doesn’t happen or something else happens, he can't cope with that. At home he shares a bedroom with our brother who is 14, this is a large age gap between them meaning things can get moved which can really cause him to have a meltdown, so we created a tent in their room for all of he things to go so everything is organized. He has recently also started to have a sick feeling to certain foods or smells, and he will refuse to touch them. My brother can also be a really caring and loving towards people and animals, I was obsessed with him when he was born so we grew to have a close bond even with our 14-year age gap, so I understand what triggers him. My brother is one of the main reasons I am passionate about the project as we have a close bond and I wanted to research it better to be able to understand what goes on in his head. I also want to go into teaching with a SEND focus, ive always wanted to be a primary school teacher and I've recently decided that SEND was also something I wanted to focus on as I want to teach but also help children understand what's going on with them. I think this is something that is important as a lot of teachers are not qualified in SEND but I think teachers should have a basic understanding of it so they can recognise it in children if the parents haven't already. im doing this project to hopefully allow others to also see that it is something teachers and students should recognise, and we should be putting things in place for these children. Many specialist schools have a similar focus with children and young people with Speech Language and Communication needs these being children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders and those with dyslexia. For example, Churchill special free school. Specialist schools say that they will prioritise students who have been diagnosed as having difficulties with speech, communication that can prevent them from learning in a mainstream school. They say that behaviour will be included in the process for example, Difficulties in following instructions and concentration which makes an ordinary classroom setting difficult. Specialist schools also provide other facilities that some mainstream schools do not have like specific rooms dedicated to sensory for children that may be overwelled on some days. Although specialist schools do exist some children with autism do go into mainstream schools and do really well because some schools cater for these children. Also, there are some mainstream schools that are unaware that students have autism and do not know how to deal with it and just put it to bad behaviour not that they have a problem. There also isn't a lot of teachers that have the knowledge on what autism is meaning they do not know what to do. On the other hand, children with autism can thrive in mainstream schools as a lot of children have fixations to school or a certain subject that they to better than others in. I think there is a bright future for mainstream schools adapting for children with autism. Some schools already have set things in place like a sensory room for children that feel overwhelmed during the day. One of the key ways that schools can accommodate students with autism is by providing individualized education plans. IEPs (Individualized Education Program) are customized plans that are developed for each student with autism, taking into account their unique strengths and challenges. IEPs can include accommodations such as extra time on exams, preferential seating, and visual aids. Another way that schools can accommodate students with autism is by providing sensory-friendly classrooms. Many children with autism are sensitive to sensory input, such as loud noises or bright lights. Sensory-friendly classrooms can include features such as soft lighting, noise-cancelling headphones, and fidget toys to help students with autism feel more comfortable and focused in the classroom. In addition to providing accommodations, schools can also focus on educating teachers and staff about autism. Many teachers and staff members may not be familiar with the unique needs of students with autism and may not know how to best support these students in the classroom. Providing training and education to teachers and staff can help to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for students with autism. Looking to the future, it is likely that mainstream schools will continue to focus on accommodating the needs of students with autism. As awareness of autism continues to grow, there will be an increased emphasis on providing individualized support and accommodations for students with autism. In addition, there may be a greater focus on creating sensory-friendly classrooms and providing training and education to teachers and staff about autism. I decided to create a questionnaire to develop some data on how the public feel about autistic children in school environments. I received 32 responses 4 of which being teachers, 26 being students and 2 being other.I have eleven questions some of them being; ‘do you understand what autism is?’, ‘do you think children with diagnosed autism should only be in autistic specific schools?’ ‘And what's your opinion in autism specific schools’. I received really good feedback to my questions and im going to write about all of them. In my first question I asked if people understood what autism is but also do they understand the word ‘spectrum’, 25% (8 people) of people partly understood the meaning of autism leaving 75% (24 people) saying yes, they understand. When I asked do you understand the word spectrum 88% (28 people) replied with yes, 9% (3 people) replied with partly and 3% (1 person) said now. I can infer from this that most of the people that completed my survey do understand autism and the spectrums that are linked to autism. The next question was ‘Do you think students with autism (low or high on the spectrum) can benefit from mainstream schools?’ this question was very split as 47% (15 people) agreed with this question, 50% (16 people) said maybe and 3% (1 person) said no. I then asked for people to explain their answers for question 6, here are some of the answers I got; ‘Autism is a spectrum. So, it will look different for each person, and some people will struggle with different things. A normal school setting won’t be a bad thing for some autistic people, I’m fact the structure could be a reason that it helps. Additionally, autism schools focus on one on one (usually) support to an extent that not everyone in the spectrum will need.’ and ‘Depends on the point the student is on the spectrum. If nonverbal then mainstream not appropriate. If needs support with relationships, communication and slight alteration to curriculum then mainstream is appropriate as at some point these young people will be in society and need to find ways to engage, work, socialise, shop, interact etc so school is a good starting point with some specialist support / provision. Having Churchill next door can give the best of both worlds, we have students and teachers moving between the two sites.’ in addition ‘Regardless of how high they are on the spectrum, someone with autism will have to interact with people without autism at some point in their lives. Interacting with children, may strengthen the autistic child and prepare them for possible judgment in their adult life. Obviously, that then impacts the amount of safe and comfortable learning they would do in school. I've heard criticisms and positives to both types for autistic children. So I think the type of school they are sent to should depend more on their place on the spectrum and how capable they are at interacting with others.’ lastly ‘It can expose them to the real world helping to Teach them to adapt in difficult environments also can help them grow a person. However, if put in a mainstream school support should be provided to help the student. Or maybe put in mainstream school part time and in a specialist school the other half. However, you can argue putting the student in a school that is designed to help students with autism can help them thrive and get the support they need to achieve highly. Mainstream school could be a hinderance to the student’ For my survey I wish I had more of a teacher's point of view in reply's. I think this would have helped me as I could have seen what the teachers thought rather than a large student-based reply. Although it was good to see what a lot of students thought about children with autism being in a mainstream school which helped me make a conclusion. In this survey I learnt that a lot of people believe that a lot of people think that children with autism can benefit from mainstream schooling due to allowing them to interact with a wider range of students giving them access to the same experiences as other, but they may also need extra help in the classroom due to sensory overload. Although a lack of understanding of autism in some mainstream schools some students struggle being around hundreds of children everyday making it exhausting for them to learn in a classroom. All of this depends on the child as autism is a wide spectrum each child may have a different experience with it which can cause difficulty diagnosing it in a school setting. If the children are being told off for something that is out of their control the teacher may have to find different discipline ways to deal with this. During my time in two different secondary schools in my nearby area (one for secondary school and one for sixth from (Samuel Ward Academy and Castle Manor Academy) I have seen and know a few children that fall under the SEND category. It has mainly been Autism or dyslexia, but I know some of them struggle to fit in at break and lunch times. This can be due to not having the confidence to go and talk to people and socially interact or due to sensory overload. For example, I've seen some people sitting by themselves in a canteen full of students that they are in lessons with but not interacting with them, this could be that they just enjoy people watching and being alone in this environment which is understandable if they are thinking or trying to figure people out. Break and lunch times can be hard for these students which is why a specific area for them children to go may be beneficial for the students that feel alone and need a break from it all. I have also had friends that have ADHD and autism, and they have all found it hard to understand social cues, a lot of the teacher have put them down as naughty children as they were the once being disruptive but sometime, they cannot help it. Due to this they would end up in isolation or with detention, I think they should have been spoken to as they do have autism or ADHD making it hard for them. I believe my research on finding out what the general public know and think about autism went successfully as I was able to research a topic, I was passionate in. it also gave me a larger understanding of the topic to be able to help people in the future. From completing all of my research, I personally believe that children with Autism should be in mainstream schools, It can allow them to interact with other students, become more sociable and receive the same education as other students. Although they may also need extra support in classrooms to make sure they are on task as well, sensory areas can also be put in place along with a one-on-one option for children in certain subjects they struggle in. The impact of mainstream schools for children with autism can be argued by everyone as we all have separate opinions, but in my opinion, I believe the impact can vary on the severity of autism and also on what the child and parents want to do, if they want to go to a mainstream school like their peers then it's also their choice. I think if the schools are able to adapt for the children with autism, they can have the extra support they may need then mainstream can be a correct path to go down for the children. If they also feel they may need more support and a specialised school can provide that support for the student and parents, then that can also be a good option for them. But the students should get a full rounded education to reach their full in education. Next time I would like to go into more of a neurological explanation to what causes someone to have autism, what part of the brain holds this information. I would also like to look more into the DNA aspect, could autism be a genetic thing that is passed down to children. In all I have really enjoyed this project as I have been able to look into a topic, I'm passionate about due to my brother, I want to study autism deeper at university so I can get a clear understand towards it and help children with this in the future.