ASD is a disorder that is both difficult to delineate and diagnose. 1 in every 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with ASD which amounts to about 560,000 people below the age of 21 (Palmen et al, 2012). The ASD prevalence rate is growing at a rate of 12.7% and it is likely that the number of people suffering from ASD could increase to 4 million by the year 2032 (Gillott et al 2001). It is not known to occur in any one race, but is prevalent in every ethnic, racial and socioeconomic group. ASD occurs more frequently in boys and in specific it is 4 times to 1 more likely to occur in boys (Browne, 2006). This paper is meant to discuss and analyze the inclusion issues ASD patients undergo by providing the experiences of Autistic student.
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Martin Lucas is a fourteen years old teenager who was born with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His symptoms first became evident at an early age and at age two he had been diagnosed. Martin’s parents were the first to notice that he had a problem. They were able to communicate his unique behaviour to their primary child physician. One thing that stood out is that he initially couldn’t communicate and only had limited speech as he grew older. Furthermore, he had repetitive speech, difficult to comprehend, literal interpreted language, and used words that lacked any attachment to meaning (Boucher, 2008). In addition to being limited in verbal communication, he was also unable to communicate non-verbally via hand gestures, facial expressions and eye contact. Simply, he had trouble connecting to the world in general. He barely had mastered how to express himself until his preteen years.
Based on his parent’s views, Martin had a different upbringing and he couldn’t take part in activities that his siblings participated in. However, one encouraging aspect is that his siblings never discriminated against him. He was also left out on play dates and parties due to his inability to interact with other children. He lived in his own world, rather in his mind. Nevertheless, his parents claimed that he tried his very best to overcome his predicament with renewed vigor every day. Certainly, he was not your ordinary ASD case. His parents took him to occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, educational support, and various other creations designed to help children and parents. He took to these classes in earnest and excelled. He, however, wasn’t keen on social interaction due to his limited interactions with other normal children, his inability to comprehend social cues and rules, his unusual and inappropriate reactions to social situations, and finally due to minimal collaboration from his peers to working towards a working social goal (Gillott et al 2001). When his fellow students were questioned, they stated that they found socializing with Martin uncomfortable. They noted that they never knew what to expect from their interaction with him and that they couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. It is vital to highlight that in most cases due to the pervasiveness of ASD, students and peers are a lot less understanding and accommodative of their ASD counterparts (Gillott et al 2001).
Teachers on the other hand were also no less discriminative towards students with ASD. When queried, they attributed their bias as a result of self-stimulation, few restricted interests, repetitive movements, inflexible routine, aggressive behavior (tantrums), and behavior that would probably lead to self-injury during ongoing classes. Teachers at the school often called for special classes for children with ASD; however, Martin was quite intelligent and had no trouble keeping up with the other children. In his younger years, Martin’s teachers had enrolled him in a special needs class in order to fit in and learn better. This was because they were disillusioned by his class interruptions which was a result of his unusual behaviour as described above. The teachers in the special needs classes had new creative methods to help ASD students learn better. These methods included: video modelling, visual schedules, assistive technology, and mnemonic devices. Therefore though this classes he was able to grow intellectually a lot faster than he would have had while attending regular classes. Conclusively, it is certain that Martin’s story paints a picture of the challenges that many Autist children face or will face in their early age. ASD is a worldwide disorder and those with this disorder should not be discriminated against. Ultimately, they offer as much to the world as every other person.
- Boucher, J. (2008). The autistic spectrum: Characteristics, causes and practical issues. Sage.
- Browne, M. E. (2006). Communicating with the child who has autistic spectrum disorder: a practical introduction. Paediatric Care, 18(1), 14-17.
- Gillott, A., Furniss, F., & Walter, A. (2001). Anxiety in high-functioning children with autism. Autism, 5(3), 277-286.
- Palmen, A., Didden, R., & Lang, R. (2012). A systematic review of behavioral intervention research on adaptive skill building in high-functioning young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(2), 602-617.