Thursday, December 1, 2011

Autism Classes and No Child Left Behind

A lot of the parents, raising children with Autism, struggle when discussing placement in the school system. Some of the families and the educational professionals believe that the ideal placement is and Autism class.

An Autism classroom is usually in an ordinary school. The idea being that your child has access to typical classrooms and typical activities. My experience is that most children in that type of class spend the majority if not all of their day inside that class. They do not really get to experience the things going on in the rest of the school.

This makes for some interesting situations. A lot of the parents of children with Autism in these classrooms find that their child is calmer and gets into less trouble. They also feel like their child is teased less. Those things may be true.

Unfortunately your child may be missing out on a lot of important and necessary things as well. The children spend a majority of time in a classroom with other students with Autism. There are more staff in those classrooms and sometimes other people in the school just see a child that is in that classroom as those teacher and aides responsibility.

I found that the more my daughters were around other students who had processing disorders, problems with self-stimulations, and difficulty communicating they had these difficulties more. I also have spoken with other parents who in hindsight have made the same observations.

Where it becomes more critical is when academic expectations are changed because a child is in that classroom. If a skill or concept is difficult to learn many times it will be left out of the teaching process.

An important example is No Child Left Behind and children with Autism. One of the important effects of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is that all children are being tested. After all we test and examine what is important to us as a society. That is a value that with NCLB carried over into the school system.

Unfortunately because teaching children with Autism testing skills it difficult it a lot of times had been left out of their programming. Even when a specific child had the intelligence and skills to learn the material those skills had been neglected in the Autism class.

Your child may have still gotten many other accommodations that they needed for standardized testing. Extra time and staff support routinely is provided. Unfortunately those things do not help the child with Autism understand about bubbling in those little circles. Then our children are doing poorly on the test even though they might know some of the information.

The funny thing is that ALL children are learning these skills in the typical class. As a matter of fact they generally are practicing them several times a day in different subjects. To me that was a major reason that my daughters with Autism needed to be in typical classes. It was not the only reason but it was a large one.