Where do children with autism fit in?

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by Colleen, May 21, 2004.

  1. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    May 21, 2004

    Why are children with autism removed from the regular education classroom where they are learning appropriate behavior, social and academic habits/skills being modeled by their peers, and instead being placed in special education. I understand the need for 1:1, (that's why the aide is there), as well as being with a teacher who has modified the work to meet their individual way of learning, but shouldn't the modification be offered in the regular ed. room?

    I really appreciate any input,

    Colleen, Mom of ds, 6, autism, pdd-nos :)
     
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  3. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    May 21, 2004

    I think each situation is different. In my school, the students are only removed for short periods during the day, like one hour for math and one hour for reading. This is so that the students get a "double dose" of those academic areas. They do the accomodated (sp?) versions in the regular ed classes and ALSO again in the varying exceptionalities classroom. Also, not all children get a private aid to give the 1:1, so the additional classroom is the only place for some to get individual attention.
     
  4. MJH

    MJH Companion

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    May 21, 2004

    Inclusion

    It depends on how your district views the federal guidelines of IDEA. Each district seems to have different views as to what the defination of least restrictive environment may be.

    I'm in TN and our district is very much in favor of inclusion. As a teacher there are good and bad points to inclusion. At the beginning of the year I would have said that an autisic child (kindergarten) did not belong in a reg. ed classroom because I was getting a child and I was not prepared or educated on how to teach a child with special needs. I really had to fight to get an assistant to be with him. The district told me that I would have to change his diaper in the room with a screen to block the view of the other students. I was not going to change a diaper in my room, with 19 other students sitting around knowing what was going on.

    This was a learning experience for me and I loved having the child in my room. I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience this but teacher do need to be prepared on how to handle the educational needs of special needs children. Luckily for me my child only needed help with the social aspects and modification were made. He didn't need any for academics.

    Inclusion worked for this child but it may not be in the best interest of all children with special needs. Each case needs to be looked at differently and if nothing else I would think that allowing a special needs child to attend P.E., music or art with reg. ed students would be better than no time at all. You might want to suggest this and if your child does well then try adding time in a reg. ed class for a short period of time. But, no special needs children should no longer be excluded from reg. ed students because both need the interaction.
     
  5. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 21, 2004

    I'm teaching at a school for kids with autism... out of our 30 kids, at least 8 of them travel to their home school for inclusion... several go each morning, some go full day a few days a week, others go for a class (one kid goes for art class for an hour every other week, when the bus bothers to come pick him up...) or two... We have 2-3 that next year will be leaving our program to attend their home school full-time. For the kids that attend both schools, their aide from our program also travels with them to the inclusion site so they have consistency.

    There are several other kids who I think would greatly benefit from being around "typical" kids but for various reasons the district doesn't believe they are "ready" for inclusion. One of the kids in the class I'm currently working with hasn't made much progress at ALL towards any of his speech goals, and my best guess is that although he sees adults modeling correct behavior, he isn't seeing it from his peers (about 3/4 of our kids are non-verbal or don't have skills beyond a single word or two)... I think he's a kid that could greatly benefit from inclusion once his behavior gets under control... But we have other kids who have such a severe delay in enough areas that I can't see what benefits they would get from being with peers in school that they wouldn't recieve in park district programs, etc... (our school integrates OT, Speech, Music Therapy, etc. into the school day along with and in conjunction with academics). So I think it really depends on the kid. If they're being placed in their home school, I think they should be included as much as seems appropriate for that child... LRE depends on the child, and just because one kid is placed somewhere doesn't mean it's the right placement for another kid with the same label.

    OK... I'll get off my soap box now. ;)
     
  6. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    May 22, 2004

    Thank you all for the valuable input, I feel I am walking around with hundreds of questions at any given moment, and I am trying to find my way, for my son, down the best path:)

    Thank you:D

    Colleen
     
  7. Pirates

    Pirates Rookie

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    May 23, 2004

    Over the years I have had several students that fell in the Autism spectrum. Some did great in, some unfortunately failed miserably. It wasn't the right placement for them, they needed much more one on one, in a quieter more compact environment with less competeing activities going on. It DEFINATELY depends on the child. I do think these children benfit from social interactions with typical peers, but if a regulkar classroom isn't the place, find another way to expose the child with autism to social situations (playdates, parks, swimming lessons, etc.). I home tutor a child with Autism who is in 3rd grade now and spends half the day in a cluster and have in a regular ed classroom. He is fairly high functioning but has some OCDs (like not wanting the TV on in the classroom) aqnd a short attention span that make all day in a typical class inappropriate. Good luck with your quest, don't give up fighting for what you think is best for your son, but at the same time, don't assume a cluster or self contained situation would be terrible. Observe a lot. You'll know where he belongs. Good luck, my prayers are with you,

    Wendy
     
  8. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    May 24, 2004

    My six year old is in mainstream, she is autistic and she is doing very well, learning alot of social skills from her peers. The social skills come first then the academic skills follow. Children with autism are visual learners and they learn by modeling from there peers.

     
  9. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    May 24, 2004

    More information on autism, please

    I currently have a child in my room whose "label" is EMH, but everyone involved really believes that he is actually more in the autistic family. It has been suggested to me that he is more aspergers. I looked up aspergers and he doesn't really fall into it 100 percent. Actually, he doesn't fit into any specific autistic syndrome, so I guess he'd be considered pdd-nos when he is correctly diagnosed.

    Anyway...

    I noticed a while ago that he is DEFINITELY a visual learner and I want to learn how to take more advantage of this. He only knows 4 letters, but when I ask him the name of a letter, he turns around, points to a child whose name begins with that letter, and says, "Like him!" Also, he "read" the names of all my students when I had them listed on the board. He only knew about half the names, but was able to point to the other names and then point to the correct student. In addition, he was able to go around my carpet to the rectangles that I use for "line-up spots" and tell me which child's spot each was. (At the time, I hadn't even learned them all yet.)

    Any experience with anything like this???? Any ideas on how I can best use this way of learning to teach him? He has grown by leaps and bounds this year and I am retaining him and keeping him in my room again next year. The thinking is that with another year in K, he will be just slightly behind the other kids instead of pushing him on, just because his "label" will allow us to. I really kinda was just "winging it" with him this year, but since I get to have him again next year, I really want do some research on how to really really help him.
     
  10. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    May 24, 2004

    I am an Aide for a 4th grader with Autism and I have to argree with you. I think Autistic children deserve and need to be in a classroom setting that no Special Ed. Class with have. I am in the regular classroom as long as my child can sit until he tells me he needs a break. We then go out and he can run and do whatever he like for 10 minutes. Then we head right back in to the classroom and he enjoys it. There is no excuse. Do not let any Special Ed Teacher tell you that your child does not need to be in the classroom. You said it best, "That's why there is a 1:1 aid."



     
  11. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    May 25, 2004

    Unregistered, would you put a child with aggressive behaviors towards himself or others in the general education classroom? I can think of tons of students I've worked with who would not survive, regardless of an aide, in a general setting because of their behaviors. Similarly, I've worked with many children with autism whose PEERS would not survive if they were placed in a general room--they would be physically injured on a regular basis. Also, even with an aide, what would repeated physical restraints do to the general classroom's learning environment? I can't imagine it would be terribly conducive. You said your student will tell you when he needs a break from sitting (which is fabulous) but the majority of the autistic children (and adults) I've worked with don't have this ability.

    I'm not saying there aren't TONS of children with autism who benefit from (and should benefit from) being in a general education classroom. I guess I'm just saying that it seems unfair to say "There is no excuse." I think maybe we need to avoid making all-encompassing hard-and-fast rules for education because they simply aren't feasible when applied.

    Ellen
     
  12. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    May 25, 2004

    Autism is not a behavioral problem, nor is the inability to sit for 40 minutes. Children with autism require sensory input, just like the rest of us, they just may need a heavier dose, walks in the hall are common place in my son's school as they are undisruptive and quickly bring him back to an "organized" state. While some children with autism may show behavior that is harmful to themselves or others, most, like my son, are just excited little kids who love school and want to be around their peers. Most also lack the gross motor strength and skill to harm a fly;) From my experience, the other children in the classroom love to learn about my son, and when he is not in the classroom, they always inquire about him and when he will return. They also enjoy asking him a question and receiving a response from his tech talker (cute). They need to learn about and be exposed to peers of varying disabilities, this is a part of life. I hope I haven't sounded defensive, I just want to see these beautiful children treated as equals, we shouldn't assume that because there is a disability, there is also going to be behavioral issues, if there is, that is another seperate issue.

    I greatly appreciate ALL of your responses, the more I learn, the better I can help my son:) Thank you all!

    Colleen
     
  13. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    May 25, 2004

    "Most also lack the gross motor strength and skill to harm a fly."

    Where are you getting this information from? Based on personal experience working in the field (as well as professional readings and research), I find this to be untrue and am interested in reading more to support your statement.

    I was also wondering if you could comment on segregated school models for individuals with disabilities; I would imagine you'd deem these unnecessary since you seem to support unregistered notion that all students need to be mainstreamed. Do you have any comments on specialized day-schools or day-programs for individuals with autism? Are these too unnecessary?

    Ellen
     
  14. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    May 25, 2004

    Hello
    I understand your concern about removing these children however as a teacher in a seperate class ( predominantly autisitc) there are some very good reasons. For starters under the Ontario Gov children are only entitled to a 0.5 EA so they only have 1-1 for half a day usually meaning they are sent home for the other half which equates to missing half a year of school. In addition many autistic children have a very low threshold for distraction and are highly susceptable to noise levels making trying to function in a room of 20-25 children very difficult for them even with 1-1 help. There are also non-verbal children who can be violent - unpredicatably so- and simply provide far to much noise,distraction etc for the rest of the students to have a meaningful learning experience and they are entitled to an education aswell. In addition a seperated class does program in inclusion for these children in the regular mainstream - to the extent of success which for different children mean different levels particularly as they grow and develop more self-control and self-monitoring skills (so they do get that peer contact and modelling just in controlled doses) which is a major part of their program and is directly taught - a regular classroom does not have time for this in their schedule.
    In addition these seperate classroom teachers, like myself, usually have additional qualification courses, skills and training so that we can effectvely judge and do programing at the childs level which is, in most cases of autism, significantly below grade level meaning they need far more time than a class can reasonably spend ( Ont curriculum) on any one area to grasp it. This does mean they do not cover as much but what they do cover is meaningful.
    Let me know any more questions or details you may have

     
  15. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 25, 2004

    I think that it all comes down to a couple of things, including the individual kid (at what level are they functioning? what kids of behaviors do they have? etc), the teacher (has he/she recieved training in being able to modify the work, deal with behaviors, allow sensory imput, etc), the aide, and the school (how much "disruption" will they be understanding about, how do they treat students with special needs). I don't think there's one perfect solution for any kid... if behaviors are too disruptive, they're going to not only impair the learning of the student, but it will affect the rest of the class...

    I think all students can, with the right support, be capable eventually of learning in a regular classroom environment, but I think for many kids, that can't happen right away. For many kids, they function just fine, but for many of the kids I work with, there's no way they could function productively (ie, learn anything!) in a calss with "typical kids." Most of ours will get there eventually, but maybe not immediately. ;)
     
  16. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    May 29, 2004

    Colleen,

    Not to seem like a nag, but I really am very sincerely interested in your assertion that most autistic children are unable to harm flies; if you could list any resources or materials you used to reach this conclusion it would be greatly appreciated. I want to research this notion further and would love for you to give me some starting points--I've already read lots of articles that seem to state the contrary. Also wondering if you've considered SIB (sensory related or otherwise) in this regard?

    Thanks in advance, eager to read more.

    Ellen
     
  17. denise55

    denise55 New Member

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    May 30, 2004

    Autism - inclusion

    There are several opinions on children with Autism in a classroom. For the last two years, I have been blessed to have a child with autism in my classroom. During his Kindergarten year, he acted out - crying, repeating the same words over and over, and was out of the classroom about 1/2 of the time. I personally felt that he needed to be in the classroom to observe appropriate behavior of the other students.

    I have seen a marked improvement over the last two years. He is now in the classroom 3/4 of the time and some days - depending on the curriculum demands - spends the entire day with us. He even performed in our K-6th end of the year musical and our class play. He is amazing.

    Even when I think that he is not listening or observing - he is! I am encouraged to never give up on any child with any disability! Keep asking questions, Coleen and you and your child will be blessed.
     
  18. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    May 30, 2004

    Well, the ESE teachers approached me on Friday regarding my student who is labeled EMH, but we think is really autistic. They are requesting that since I am going to have him again next year that I keep him full time in my classroom with no pull-out. It is their opinion that he is learning more from me and the other children in the regular ed classroom than he is learning with them in the VE room and that disrupting his structure with the pull-out each day may be hurting him. So...I guess there really ARE many different opinions on this topic!

    I haven't decided what I'm going to do next year. I want to do what's right for him and I'm just not sure what that is...
     
  19. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    May 30, 2004

    Sandi,

    It sounds like you have a unique wonderful child! Pdd-nos is usually diagnosed when there are autistic tendencies, but the child does not meet all of the criteria. With a visual learner, take advantage of his strength ~ at this age, cut and paste worksheets, puzzles, file folders, games, spelling using foam letters, magnetic letters, wooden letters, stencils, math through manipulatives ( I find many of the Montesorri manipulatives are excellent for the concrete understanding). He uses a visual schedule, and I have everything sorted and put in its own bucket (math, lang., art, science....) he selects the picture of the work he wants to do, finds the appropriate bucket, then, inside the buckets are zippered pencil cases with a see through panel. In each bucket may be 3-5 different bags, he thumbs through and selects the stimuli. This way he is doing the works that I have selected, but using the stimuli that he has selected ;) . I find that he REALLY loves this method. We just make sure that everything is taught in the hands on method, he will master new skills a lot quicker this way, and he also enjoys his work! If you would like some more specific examples, PLEASE let me know, I am more than happy to share:D

    Good luck,

    Colleen:)
     
  20. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    May 31, 2004

    Colleen,

    Thanks so much for the ideas. I would love to hear more. He is an amazing kid. I am blessed to be able to have him for 2 years. I'm not sure how I'll let him go next year. Just watching the excitement on his face when he "gets it" is incredible! The good thing about keeping him for another year is that I already know him and his tendancies. The hope is that I will be able to group him with "regular" students who are simply lacking the same skills as he and use the same method to teach that entire group. Although he came to me with a developmental age of about 2 years 10 months, he has most likely grown more than one full developmental year this past year. That will put him close the level of my less mature kids that I will be getting next year. It will be easier to include him now. Last year was difficult because he was SO far behind the other children.

    I LOVE the idea of how you set everything up. It is similar to how I do my centers anyway, so it won't "look" different to him or anyone else.
     
  21. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    May 31, 2004

    visual learner

    Sandi,

    Let's see.....I have labels on everything. I just hand write in bold marker and use packing tape to attach i.e. "wall" is taped to the wall, "easel" on his easel......label EVERYTHING! We also use the computer for upper to lower case matching, I started simple, I wrote his name in all caps and set the keyboard on caps lock, then when he was able to type his name, I only capitalized the first letter and he had to ID the rest of his name by matching lower to upper. When teaching colors we used the tele talker at first, we would have him pull an item out of a bag and ID it on the tele talker which showed the color with its name above it, eventualy remove the color shade and leave only the written word. We do a lot with wiki sticks~trace shapes, letters, numbers, his own name....visual learners do very well with seriation, sequence, what doesn't belong. When doing a story sequence, I use props as I tell the story, retell the story with cards, then ask him to "show me" with the cards and he puts them in order (this one has been working VERY well!) Since your child is able to recognize some of his peers names, have you tried writing one of their names out with one letter on each index card, mix the name up, and ask him to put in order? I bet he would do this with ease:) I could go on, but I am not sure if I am quite on the right track;)

    Remember, if you need any more suggestions, I am here:D

    Colleen
     
  22. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Jun 1, 2004

    Colleen,
    I have been reading all the postings about your question. I am a special ed. teacher in a life skills classroom and I have several students with autism. I really think the decision to keep a student in a special ed. class as opposed to a regular ed. class depends primarily on the individual student, their abilties, and the severity of some of their behaviors or tendencies. Sometimes the special ed. room is a better choice because of the smaller class size, the consistency of routine, and the fact t hat we can make sure the enviromnet doesn't send them into sensory overload.
    I have a girl who is not mainstreamed for anything, because even with a 1:1 aide, she is unable to control some of her agressive behaviors. Yes, some autistic children can be very agressive, and some can be very loving. It kind of upset me to hear you say that they lack the gross motor skills to harm a fly....there are many a day when I have gone home with brusies on my legs from being kicked or have had my hair pulled by this little girl. The decision not to mainstream was based mainly on how her parents felt. I do ahve another student who is autistic and is mainstreamed for several classes. This student just has better control over his frustrations.
    Like all "typical" kids, ther is not one stock answer for the best way to educate a child with special needs. I would definately, if you feel that your child can handle regualr ed., fight for this. You know your child better than anyone. If you work with the school district and explain your concerns and share what you'd liekto see happen, I'm sure you can come to a solution that you can both live with and that, most importantly, will be best for your son.
    ~JMH

     
  23. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    Jun 2, 2004

    Unregistered,

    Well put! Thank you for sharing your experience. I guess I have been blessed with a calm child and in all the school's I have observed, I have not yet witness aggressive behavior, though it clearly exsists. Thank you for the lesson:)

    Colleen
     
  24. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jun 2, 2004

    If you want a more "personal" look at aggression and related behaviors, try Kate Rankin's "Growing Up Severely Autistic: They Call Me Gabriel." Its beautifully written and her son's functioning level is very similar to that of many of my former campers and future students. For children at this level, it is not always feasible to use inclusion or mainstream models.
     
  25. mhattaway2

    mhattaway2 Guest

    Jun 2, 2004

    Colleen....I guess it does differ between districts. I teach second grade in Pasadena, TX and will have 2 students with autism in my classroom next year. They will be in there 1/2 day with a full-time aide.

    I am interested in your response as a parent. What advice can you give me on forming a good relationship with my 2 students and their parents. I want to make sure I am sensitive to their needs, as well as helping meet the educational goals their parents have for them. I am very excited to work with these 2 boys and very interested in what I can learn from them. Any advice you have for me is much appreciated.

    Melissa
     
  26. Colleen

    Colleen Guest

    Jun 3, 2004

    Melissa,

    Hello! Wow, how wonderful that you have begun to research in preperation for NEXT year! I can tell already that your boys will be in good hands.:)

    I guess as a parent, I just want to be listened to, and I feel the need to have input from the teacher as well. We talk everyday. I know that must sound excessive, but I pick my son up from school, and she will summarize his day, good/rough, compliant/non-comp., sensory/quiet....and any new skills worked on. She always lets me know HOW they teach a new skill so I can carry it over at home and vice versa. We set eduactional goals together at his IEP, so far this part has been pretty easy as he is only in early childhood.

    As for getting to know your new students, just observe them as much as possible, get to know their strengths and use it to their advantage (my son loves to cut, so we do a lot of cut and paste worksheets). You will want to determine their sensory needs as well, the OT will help you set up a sensory diet, but to give you an idea, keep a corner for them, a place where they can get away when the room seems to overwhelming. Have a bean bag, rocking chair, fidget toys, vibrating toys, thera putty, headphones (to block out noise) books with photos (actual photos), photo album with pictures of peers, yourself, ot, speech therapist (familiar people). During classtime let them use a seat wedge, slant board for writing, adaptive aids for writing/reading/communicating, and most importantly, a visual schedule. It also helps to pair them with a buddy, someone who will be a good model of appropriate behavior.

    Also remember, that if they are experiencing unusual behavior, log it, every time, this will help you determine if there is an external factor, i.e., does the scraping of the chairs on the floor hurt their ears, (if so, put tennis balls on as covers), does the fire drill set them off, does the tag in their shirt "burn", always be aware that this is a possibility.

    I hope something here will help,

    Good luck :)

    Colleen
     
  27. azteacherpeoria

    azteacherpeoria Rookie

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    Jun 19, 2004

    I think every case is different. We are a small district and we currently have two students diagnosed either with Autism or Autism spectrum of disorders. They only see me for times that they need to "chill out" and get their bearings. One has an one to one aide. The other is on his own except during recess.
     

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