When we hear the term autism, many of us think of Raymond, the young man with an encyclopedic memory and amazing math skills portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in his Academy award winning performance in the movie Rain Man. But all autistic people are not Raymond as Autism is a spectrum disorder.
Still being debated is the question on whether children with autism should be in school or should be placed in a specialized autistic remedial environment. The RTE act stresses on inclusion, but B.Ed courses do not prepare teachers for this inclusive classroom scenario and thus inclusion becomes a mere illusion on paper.
If schools remove autistic children (sometimes under pressure from other parents) then the path followed is black. If the school enrols autistic children in the name of inclusion then the path followed is white, because it would have upheld the rights of the autistic child. But do white and black work in autism both for the child and other children?
No, it does not. The path required is grey. In many aspects of autism, the children are sound sensitive and would not thrive in a classroom scenario where the noise, clutter and chaos will only add to their issues. So it is not inclusion (white) or seclusion (black) that is the answer, it is a carefully selected path of grey (integration) that has to be arrived at by the parents, therapists, school and teachers.
It is not easy to deal with autism cases as there is very little expertise on autism available in India. Global research on autism is also fairly new and being a spectrum disorder, each child requires a very individualized plan. It is a spectrum which means that its symptoms and characteristics find expression in many different combinations and in any degree of severity. At one end of the spectrum we may find a mute child crouched in a corner of his room, spinning a paper over and over again for hours while at the other end of the spectrum would be a child who screams nonstop and flaps arms or tends to lash out physically.
Autistic or autism disorder is one of several pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These disorders are characterized by severe widespread impairment in social interaction and communication skills and stereotyped patterns of behaviors, interest and activities.There are a range of treatments of autism. Drugs don't cure autism, but many with autism also suffer from multiple problems such as depression or seizures, and the drugs can help with those secondary problems. Some of the therapies for autism world over are:
Allergy induced Autism and Casein/Gluten, Auditory Training, Music Therapy, Doman/ Delacato Method, Holding Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, The Squeeze Machine, Lovaas Method, The Son-Rise Program taught at the Option Institute and Fellowship, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) , Speech-Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Vitamin/Mineral Therapy
The grey path would be the ideal path and would mean that:
Parents of autistic children should keep in mind:
It’s time to have assorted chairs in the classroom and to have the grey view on inclusion, let’s stop the black and white.
Dedicated to all parents of kids with autism, you are doing a great job, it is because of you all (and a special one that I know) that these kids are not the forgotten children.
Also read: Busting Myths Around Autism
Explore the entire collection of articles: Special Needs#specialneeds