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Advocating for change by Felicia Luke-Winfield
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Advocating for change by Felicia Luke-Winfield


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  • 1. Advocating for Change Problem—How would you teachautistic students and manage theirbehavior within a regular education environment.
  • 2. Summary of Historical, Political,Environmental, Systematic, and LegalContext of the Problem There are autistic students who will yell out during instruction, or continue to get out of their seats without permission. I have also seen students with autism who just sit in class with nothing to do while their classmates are working on a task. This should not be acceptable. Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects the way the brain functions. Autism can also impact a child’s socialization skills. The child can experience delays in learning to speak, and/or have a tendency to repeat the same thing over and over again (Darden, 2007). Their eye contact is usually poor. You will have to teach and remind the child to look at people. An autistic child also had the tendency to become preoccupied with certain topics and activities.
  • 3. Summary Continued………. There are several reasons that are speculated to what may cause autism, but no one knows for sure. Studies have been done on gene abnormalities in the brain, the chemistry in the brain, and possible environmental factors on the brain. All three are believed to play a part, but nothing exclusive has been found. According to Leblanc, Richardson, and Burns (2009) many autistic children have a good memory for visual and auditory material; although memory for visual material is better. Language and speech abilities vary in children with autism (SAMHSA, 2003). The majority of children with autism speak late. They have a tendency to repeat entire sentences over and over again.
  • 4. Data and Findings Valenti and Loiacono (2010) findings report teachers may not notice that students with autism have difficulty with short and long term memory when learning information. For example, when the students need to copy problems or information from the whiteboard, the students may not be able to retain the information long enough to copy it. The student will more likely copy one letter or one word at a time rather than whole words or phrases. Leblanc, Richardson, and Burns (2009) write, “Research on teachers without training reveal that they may see these students as lazy or stubborn.” The social development of a student with autism is different from other students. Autistic students do not have the skills to interact with their peers, so this may cause them to withdraw and isolate themselves. According to Abdool (2010), “autistic students must develop their social competence in order to function in the school environment.” Students with autism lack motivation for learning. The students become motivated based on how well they perform different task. If they do not have the skills to complete an assignment, it’s understandable why they may tend to withdraw from some classroom activities. Research findings of Hwang and Evans (2011) suggest autistic students struggle with learning new concepts. It’s hard for them to make connections and build knowledge.
  • 5. A Viable Solution and Recommendations Siegel, Koenig, Cohen, Bleiweiss, and Brennan (2009) researched different programs to train children, parents, and teachers in order for autistic students to be successful in a regular education classroom. One way to accomplish this is by using the “nest” program. Special trained therapist and educators come into the classroom to provide a therapeutic environment. A variety of strategies are used to help autistic students academically, behaviorally, and socially. For the “nest” program, a daily schedule is displayed in the classroom for all to see. Visual aids take the place of verbal direction. Students with autism find it easier to process the information. Peer tutors work with autistic students to help them complete classroom assignments and jobs (Terpstra, Higgins, & Pierce, 2002).
  • 6. A Viable Solution andRecommendations Continued…… How a teacher presents information to a student with autism makes a big difference. Get the child ready to learn during class by giving her clear expectations before the lesson so that the student knows what he/she will be required to know and do. A graphic organizer explaining many points can be sent home so the parent can go over information the night before (Abdool, 2010). This will help the child be familiar with the information when the teacher goes over it. The child can use the graphic organizer during the lesson to follow along by pointing to each part as the teacher discusses it. This gives the child the best chance at participating in the lesson and answering questions. After a lesson is over, it is important to check the student’s understanding of key concepts and and details through post- teaching. The teacher can do this, or get the assistance of the special education teacher and/ or paraprofessional (Healthday, 2011).
  • 7. A Rationale for the Proposed Solution Abdool’s (2010) research has shown that accommodations and adaptations should be made in order for students with autism to be successful. Modifications involve changing the amount or type of information to be learned. For example, the language or concepts may be simplified. The work should be challenging but not so difficult that it becomes stressful for the child. Accommodations are adjustments made to the environment and to the way the material is presented to benefit the child’s learning style so that the child is able to learn the required material.
  • 8. Implications the solution will have: Having a child with autism un your class will be an enriching experience. It will challenge a teacher’s creativity and problem solving skills. It will make you think in ways you haven’t before andmake you a stronger teacher overall. In addition to developing your teaching skills, observing the growth of a child with autism and knowing that you have played a part in that growth can be gratifying.
  • 9. References: Abdool,W., (2010). Included Students with Autism and Access to General Curriculum: What is Being Provided? Issues in Teacher Education, 19 (2), 153-169. Retrieved April 25, 2011, from ERIC database. Darden, E., (2007). Autism, the Law, and You. American School Board Journal, 60-63. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from ERIC database. Hwang, Y.,& Evans, D. (2011). Attitudes Towards Inclusion: Gaps Between Belief and Practice. International Journal of Special Education, 26(1), 136-146. Retrieved May 1, 2011 , from ERIC database. Healthday, (2011, May 11). Most Teachers Favor Inclusion for Autistic Students. U.S. News & World Report, 54-56. Leblanc, L., Richardson, W., & Burns , K. (2009). Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Inclusive Classroom. Teacher Education and Special Education, 32 (2), 166-179. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from Wilson Select Plus database.
  • 10. References Continued………. . SAMHSA’S National Mental Health Information Center.(2003). Children’s Mental Health Facts Children and Adolescents with Autism. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Siegel, D., Koenig K., Cohen, S., Bleiweiss, J., & Brennan, S. (2009). The ASD Nest Program. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42 (1), 6-13. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from Wilson Select Plus database. 21 Terpstra, J., Higgins, K., & Pierce, T. (2002). Can I Play? Classroom –Based Interventions for Teaching Play Skills to Children with Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17 (2), 119-126. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from ERIC database. Valenti , V., & Loiacono , V. (2010). General Education Teachers Need To Be Prepared To Co-Teach The Increasing Number of Children With Autism In Inclusive Settings. International Journal of Special Education, 25 (3), 24-32. Retrieved May 1, 2011 , from ERIC database.