Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neuro-developmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one out of every 68 children in the U.S. They occur more often among boys than girls. While autism appears to be on the rise, it’s unclear whether the growing number of diagnoses shows a real increase or comes from improved detection. Early diagnosis is important. That’s because early treatment can help a child with autism make significant gains in language and social skills.
Autism spectrum disorders affect three different areas of a child’s life:
- Social interaction
- Communication — both verbal and non verbal
- Behaviors and interests
Sometimes, a child’s development is delayed from birth. Some children seem to develop normally before they suddenly lose social or language skills. Others show normal development until they have enough language to demonstrate unusual thoughts and preoccupations.
In some children, a loss of language is the major impairment. In others, unusual behaviors (like spending hours lining up toys) seem to to be the dominant factors. Each child with an ASD will have his or her own pattern of autism.
While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children. (Information taken from Webmd)
Work with professionals in early intervention or in your child’s school to develop an IFSP or an IEP that reflects your child’s needs and abilities. Be sure to include related services, supplementary aids and services, Assistive Technology, and a positive behavioral support plan, if needed. Be patient and stay optimistic. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow.
AUTISM AND SPECIAL EDUCATION
It may seem simple: Your child has autism, so he qualifies for special education services. Autism is one of the qualifying conditions of the thirteen categories under which special education can be provided. That means your child doesn’t have to have an additional disability to be able to receive special education services.
Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. Having an evaluation–either by the school district or an outside evaluator-that clearly states your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder is the first hurdle. The second hurdle is proving that your child’s disability is interfering with his educational performance. This requires evaluating his current performance and abilities. He may undergo a variety of evaluations including psychological testing, a classroom observation, occupational therapy evaluation, etc. Once the evaluations are completed, the team will sit down to review the information and recommendations and see if your child qualifies under the federal guidelines.
Note: An important thing to remember as a parent is that your child’s education can be affected without him having academic trouble. If there are behavioral concerns, for whatever reason, that is causing your child to lose learning time in the class (i.e. being sent home, to the principal’s office), his disability is affecting his learning.
Information taken from Parent Spectrum