A type of neurodevelopmental disorder, autism delayed an affected child’s cognitive and language development by altering how nerve cells and their synapses (a structure that allows nerve cell to communicate with another cell) interact and organized. Delayed development in autistic children often results in other later life difficulties such as poor social and learning skills.
The Impact of Delayed Cognitive and Language Development in Learning
Autism in children commonly occurs before the age of 3 and its common symptoms include child’s gradual withdrawal from social relations, deteriorating verbal skills, and repetitive stereotypical behaviors such as head-banging, spinning, rocking, hand-flapping, and so on. However, results of a recent study suggest the frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and infections among children are also symptoms of autism.
Autistic school aged children are rarely placed in traditional classrooms due to their poor social skills and anxieties over a large group of people. Moreover, since autism has a profound effect on thinking and learning ability, they usually attend special classes and taught with teaching methods designed for specific impairments caused by the autistic disorder.
However, teaching children with autism outside mainstream school classroom, according to study, does not resolve their difficulties in socialization, communication, thinking, and behavior. In fact, this type of arrangement deprived them opportunities to communicate, relate ideas, build social relationships, and cope with different social situations. Moreover, although most children with autism are not interested or appreciate social contacts, teaching strategies must remain socially oriented and instead of tolerating unhelpful attitude and behaviors provide opportunities for interaction and social skills development.
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Providing Opportunities for Communication, Interaction, and Confidence Building
It is important to remember that socialization; communication, thinking and behavior are the most common difficulties experienced by students with autism thus teaching strategies should resolve all these issues simultaneously. Special classes, for example, satisfy autistic students’ need for isolation rather than identifying causes and reducing difficulty in developing a social relationship, encouraging communication and promoting positive thinking and behavior.
Students in mainstream school classrooms have different perceptions in life but we should dwell on the reality that humans are passionate about sharing and often find fulfillment in helping others in need. Since most students with autism, regardless of teaching methods and classroom category, consistently need the support of those who care and understand their needs, teachers may find encouraging non-autistic and kindhearted students to help their less able peers beneficial in terms of social and cognitive skills development. For example, the perception and attitude of students with interaction problem may be improved by their peer's interest and enthusiasm to interact with others.
Similarly, since most children with autism disorder avoid social interaction due to lack of social skills and knowledge on how to make friends, behave in different situation, interpret peers’ expression and intent, and comply with social rules, a classroom filled with interacting, enthusiastic and cooperative students can deliver helpful social cues that they can put into practice when similar situation comes their away in the future.
Inclusion education for students with autism can provide the opportunity to learn alongside peers in mainstream schools. It can deliver positive social cues that people with disabilities are not singled out or considered different in our society. It can help gradually develop a sense of community among autistic students, eliminate anxiety over a lack of social skills, increase enthusiasm for learning, and later shine through class performance and achievements.