Introduction What is IDEA? Who Qualifies? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted in 1990, and reauthorized in 1997. It is a federal law that was created to ensure that everyone receives a free appropriate public education, regardless of ability, promotes increased parental participation and protection for students. IDEA also strives to offer additional special education services, and procedural safeguards. The special education services are uniquely designed to meet the needs in the least restrictive environment for the students with disabilities. Special education includes a variety of services: individual/small group instruction, curriculum/teaching modifications, assistive technology, transition services, and specialized therapy services. IDEA services are offered at no cost to the parent or child (National Resource Center on AD/HD). Children, between the ages of three through twenty-one, who meet the criteria for one of the thirteen qualifying disabilities and require special education services because of their disability qualify for services with IDEA. The thirteen categories are: autism, deaf/blind, deafness, hearing impaired, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment including blindness, and other health impairments (National Resource Center on AD/HD).
Autism as defined by IDEA According I.D.E.A. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Special Education Lawyers Protecting Your Child’s Educational Rights, “Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.”
Another Definition Click this link to listen to the definition of autism by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) http://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/autism/videos/whatisautism.html
Diagnosis Autistic disorders are discovered gradually because the range of behaviors is so broad; therefore, autism is rarely diagnosed before the age of two or three. There are no medical tests to determine if a child has autism, so doctors will diagnose autism through elimination of other disorders, this process is called differential diagnosis. Many doctors will reassure parents that their infants will grow out of their disturbing behaviors, because most infants do. Autism is more evident when the child’s language and social development is not at the same place as other children’s. The social skills of a child with autism will seem strange and the child may not interact with others, or do so in an awkward manner. The motor development will also vary from other children in that a child with autism may engage in repetitive acts, sometimes self-injurious. The process to diagnosing autism usually goes from the pediatrician, who refers them to a child psychiatrist, or an early intervention program including a team of professionals. The team would then diagnose the autism (Advameg, Inc., 2011).
Three Categories of Diagnosis DSM-IV-TR specifies three diagnostic categories, each with four components, that are used to make a diagnosis of autistic disorder: Communication, Social, and Pattern Behaviors (Advameg, Inc., 2011).
Communication Development: Qualitative impairments in communicating in at least one of the following four areas: Abnormal development of language, making no attempts to communicate through different means like gestures or mime Decreased ability to initiate or maintain a conversation with others Repetitive use of language, or use of words in unusual, idiosyncratic ways Lack of imaginative play, such as make-believe or social imitative play (Advameg, Inc., 2011)
Behavior: Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as demonstrated by at least one of the following: Unusual and overly absorbing preoccupation with one or more interests or activities Need for adherence to routines and rituals Stereotyped and repetitive motor behaviors Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects (Advameg, Inc., 2011)
Social Interaction: Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as demonstrated by at least two of the following: Impairment in the use of nonverbal behaviors Failure to develop relationships lack of attempts to share pleasure, activities, interests, or achievements with other people Incapability to respond to social situations or other people's emotions with empathy (Advameg, Inc., 2011)
Common Terms Related to Autism The social development subgroups: Passive: The passive group involves children who make few social initiations but respond positively to the approaches of others. Active but Odd: The active but odd group makes initiations in social interactions, and seek them out, but their method of attempting these interactions are inappropriate in language and social development. Aloof: The aloof group is inconsistent in their behavior. Typically non-respondent to people, although they do attempt to have their needs met and often enjoy physical interactions. (Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism, National Research Council, 2001, pp. 45-92)
Joint Attention: Joint attention is the lack of ability coordinate attention between people and objects. Symbol Use: Symbol use reflects a deficit in learning conventional or shared meanings for symbols Limited Gestural Use: They predominantly use primitive motoric gestures to communicate like leading, pulling or manipulating another’s hand. Sensory-Perceptual: Sensory Perceptual is a term used to refer to responses to basic sensations and perceptions. Affective contact: Affective contact is a term used to describe the ability to form emotional ties. Echolalia: Speech consisting of repeating something heard (Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism, National Research Council, 2001, pp. 45-92)
Common Interventions Parents eager to do everything possible for their child may turn to other methods to treat autism. Although not proven beneficial, the following are among the most debatable: Dietary Intervention: This is the belief that an insufficiency of certain minerals and vitamins, and food allergies, can cause autistic symptoms. Gluten and casein are among the most popular substances to be avoided in this intervention. Vitamin B6 is believed to be beneficial, as well. Chelation: This is the belief that removing heavy metals from the blood of a child with autism can reverse autistic symptoms. This is an intervention is used by those who believe there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (Allen, K.E., & Cowdery, G.E., 2009. pp. 242)
Common Behaviors Eating Behaviors: Onset in the first year of life, continuing invariably Abnormal appetites of food due to texture, color, and taste Abnormal appetites of food due to rituals surrounding meals Sleep Behaviors: Onset after the age of one Constant insomnia, rather than episodic Increases likelihood of depression Self-Injury: Peaks in toddler years, typically gone by age 4 Head banging Hitting one’s self Biting one’s self Aggression: Peaks in toddler years, typically gone by age 5 In home Outside of home Towards parents and siblings most often Temper Tantrums: Onset by age three, continuing invariably On daily basis, rather than episodic Restricted and repetitive interests and activities: Onset as soon as birth, continuing invariably Unusual sensory responses: over sensitive to certain sounds or visual stimuli Inflexibility to change: needing things to occur the same way each time, creating routines Repetitive play activities: focus on unusual interests, for example, the knowledge of all information and statistics on one type of car (Child-Autism-Parent-Cafe.com, May 2, 2011)
Speech Behaviors: Onset at birth, continuing invariably No speech Delayed speech development Echolalia Delayed echolalia Confusion between “I” and “You” Social Behaviors: Onset at birth, continuing invariably Lack of interaction or response to people Lack of eye contact Stiff bodies when picked up as babies Dislike of human touch Passive behavior No fear of danger Inappropriate laughing Physical Behaviors Walking on tiptoes Preoccupation with hands Poor balance Flapping hands Spinning Other Common Behaviors Lack of interest in toys Advanced competence in drawing, music, arithmetic, calendar arithmetic, memory, and pitch. (Child-Autism-Parent-Cafe.com, May 2, 2011)
Individual Learning Needs for Students with Autism Build on your child's interests If a child is fixated on Ford trucks, calculate how long it takes a Ford truck to drive from A to B Offer a predictable schedule Teach tasks as a series of simple steps Too many steps equals too much stimulation and confusion Actively engage your child's attention in highly structured activities Print black ink on colored paper to reduce the contrast and make it easier to read Especially important for those with visual processing problems Teach a theory in multiple locations Look both ways at all streets, it is not a rule only at the one street by the playground Provide regular reinforcement of positive behavior Speak in different tones People with autism are very sensitive to noise, offer a variety of tones, volumes, or singing to see where they fit ALWAYS involve the parents (Grandin, T., December 2002)
Individual Learning Needs for Students with Autism Show what you are saying When explaining how to open a milk carton, demonstrate Promote spoken language Give the child what they’re asking for AFTER they have spoken their request Provide time for child with autism to interact with children who have no disabilities They will see “normal” social and language development Use tangible reinforcement along with attention Provide an optimal setting in the classroom to minimize distractions Arrange and rearrange seating charts until the best arrangement has been made (Allen, K.E., & Cowdery, G.E., 2009. pp. 241)
References Advameg, Inc.. (2011). Autism. In Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders online. Retrieved from http://www.minddisorders.com/A-Br/Autism.html Allen, K.E., & Cowdery, G.E. (2009). The exceptional child: Inclusion in early childhood education (6thed.). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, March 19). Autism spectrum disorder. In Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People, Saving Money. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/autism/videos/whatisautism.html Child-Autism-Parent-Cafe.com. (2011, May 2). Information on Autism. Retrieved from http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/information-on-autism.html Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism, National Research Council. (2001). Educating children with autism. In C. Lord & J.P. McGee (Eds.). (pp. 45-92). Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10017&page=R1 Grandin, T. (2002, December). Autism Research Institute, Autism is Treatable. For individuals living with autism. Retrieved from: http://www.autism.com/ind_teaching_tips.asp I.D.E.A. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Special Education Lawyers Protecting Your Child’s Educational Rights. (n.d.). Disabilities under i.d.e.a. Retrieved from http://www.specialeducationlawyers.info/disabilities.htm#autism National Resource Center on AD/HD. (n.d.). Idea (the individuals with disabilities education act). Retrieved from http://www.help4adhd.org/education/rights/idea