Based on the paper titled “Needs of Students with Communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Misty Smith. Originally published for PSY 230 at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education.
The term Autism was first used in the early 1900’s by Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist Leo Kanner in a paper which he was describing “autistic disturbances of affective contact” (Hardman 263) although the disorder’s symptoms had been known since the 1800s.
Needs of Students with Communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders
The term Autism was first used in the early 1900’s by Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist Leo Kanner in a paper which he was describing “autistic disturbances of affective contact” (Hardman 263) although the disorder’s symptoms had been known since the 1800s. Over the years that followed children with autistic symptoms were, like most children with noticeable disabilities, kept separate from ‘normal’ children in educational settings. However, the segregation of these children ended in the United States in 1975 with the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, stating that “children with autism were permitted a free and appropriate public education” (Hardman 264) albeit under inappropriate labels with staffing that was not properly trained for their needs.
Although students with communication disorders and autism spectrum disorders vary differently in their conditions and needs, there are commonalities among them which include behavioral, social, and communication differences. Students with these disorders often show behavioral traits that do not conform to societies views of normal and may include:
“Unusually intense or focused interests, stereotyped and repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and spinning, repetitive use of objects such as repeatedly switching lights on and off or lining up toys, insistence on sticking to routines such travelling the same route home each day and doing things in exactly the same order every time, unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects, sensory sensitivities including avoidance of everyday sounds and textures such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and sand” (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2017).
Next, social behaviors and communication deficits which are common in these children include being limited in the usage of nonverbal communication skills including not understanding eye movements and hand gestures (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2017). Children with these disorders often find it hard to formulate relationships with others due to the communication barriers that exist. Furthermore, more extreme cases limit communication altogether which can lead to “lack of seeking to share enjoyment, interests, and activities with other people” (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2017).
Modifications for children with communication and autism disorders need to be put into place both at home and in their school setting. If a child is diagnosed at an early age intervention programs are in place to kickstart learning. For example, “they can receive early intervention through a provider of services to children with disabilities or delays” (Hardman, p. 276). Once a child reaches school age, special teams which use IED’s and other plans to formulate the best course of actions to ensure the children are receiving the best possible education based on their needs.
Examples of interventions and modifications can be seen in the education of this student’s son who was diagnosed with Autism before the age of two. As a result of his early diagnosis, he was placed into a special preschool program that was designed to help him and others with speech and behavioral issues. He was behind on the normal speech scale and his words could not be understood. Therefore, a plan was designed and implanted that was to provide him with speech therapy which was to be continued throughout his educational journey; as a result, as an adult, he can speak to others, although he does show a significant speech impediment.
In conclusion, children with communication and autism spectrum disorders can be identified by common characteristics, although some children do display other variances. These children can be taught in an educational setting that includes proper planning based on the individual child’s needs under the supervision of trained educators and staff.
Autism Spectrum Australia. (2017). Characteristics. Retrieved from https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/content/characteristics
Hardman, Michael L. Human Exceptionality: School, Community, and Family, 12th Edition. Cengage Learning, 20160101. VitalBook file.