Autism autism from U.S., Australia and Britain receive

Autism can be classified as a developmental
disorder characterized by severe impairments in social interaction and
communication. Turnbull (2007) said that children with autism are the most
difficult students to place in mainstream classrooms. This is highlighted in
Peter Westwood’s book, “Common-sense Methods for Children with Special
Education Needs”, where it says that 12% of children with autism from U.S.,
Australia and Britain receive their education in mainstream classrooms.

In the early 2000’s has been a drastic
increase in the number of children that have been diagnosed with an autistic
spectrum disorder (ASD; Centres for Disease Control, 2009; Kogan et al., 2009)
and to this day autism is still a significant obstacle in having a good social
life. However, the right support can make an incredible difference in
children’s lives, that is why children diagnosed with ASD should find the
support they need at school.

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In 2011, B. Reid concluded in his study that
“34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing
about being at school is being picked on” (B. Reid (2011), p.7). Humphrey and
Hebron (2013) found that “behaviour difficulties, age, use of public transport,
educational placement in mainstream settings, and being in receipt of SEND
provision that involved external professional support were associated with
increased exposure to bullying” (Taylor & Francis (2014), p.851). The same
article talks about how bullying can be prevented by working with teachers and
support staff. Pointing out that there are fewer incidents in schools with
better teacher-student relations. The support staff is also very important for
preventing or reducing bullying. “The evidence suggests that while such staff
provide critical support that can enhance the academic engagement (e.g. staying
‘on-task’), the manner in which they are typically deployed (e.g. intensive,
1:1 in-class support) can inadvertently reduce opportunities for social interaction
and increase social distance from peers (Symes and Humphrey 2012)” (Taylor
& Francis (2014), p.856).

To further explain the importance of
teacher-student and staff relations, Humphrey and Symes designed an experiment
where 36 pupils with ASD were interviewed using “semi-structured interviews”.
The dialogue was conducted to provide “a voice for participants and a window
into their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a field dominated by
impersonal experimental studies” (Humphrey and Symes (2010), p.83) and to see
how students with ASD react to bullying and their use of social support. The
students responded to bullying in a range of different strategies ranging from
seeking help to resorting to violence. The most common response was talking to
a teacher or a teaching assistant. Participants also reported turning to a
friend in case of problems with another pupil. “Teachers appeared to be the
most common source of social support in response to bullying. This finding
resonates with the quantitative study that took place alongside this work, in which
support from teachers was ranked higher than any other potential source” (Humphrey
and Symes (2010), p.88).

For Educational Psychologists to provide a
solution for this, their behaviour needs to be taken into consideration and to
find ways to improve it. Over the years it has been proved that the
contribution of specialists can improve the lifestyle of children with ASD. In
relation to bullying, it is important to include such individuals because the
victims may turn for help during the time spend together. There has been a lot
studies that research the behaviour of such children, like the study conducted
by Aldred, Green, and Adams (2004) where 28 children with autism were
randomized into control groups: younger versus older and lower functioning
versus higher functioning. The results showed significantly improved
functioning, including reduced autism, it also increased expressive vocabulary
and communication. “Although the study lacks standardized measures of
developmental performance, the finding of marked increases in child spoken
language in the treated group is an important outcome, given the strong
predictive relationships between expressive language abilities in the preschool
years and better outcomes later” (S. J. Rogers & L. A. Vismara (2008), p.6).

Taking into consideration the information
provided, it is to expect that in these challenges errors can occur. It is
important to keep in mind that children with ASD are different from each other
so not every one of them will seek for help, thus it can lead to other problems
like taking the matter into their hands and respond with violence.

The same article by B. Reid (2011) concluded
that “63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school
their parents believe would best support them” (B. Reid (2011), p.18). Usually,
children with ASD that remain in mainstream schools do not have the right
support and resources to be able to develop and it can also cause more damage
at a psychological level, facing isolation and ridicule. To further understand
the significance of special classrooms one needs to understand what ASD program
development means. This type of program requires a team of personnel that
evaluates an improves the program while monitoring the activities and the data
used to make decisions about changes required. (Caroline I. Magyar, 2011).

Avramidis et
al (2000) explain that educators
do not have an empathetic understanding of disabling conditions, nor are they
ready to accept students with special needs. “Center and Ward’s (1987) study
with regular teachers indicated that their attitudes to integration reflected
lack of confidence both in their own instructional skills and in the quality of
support personnel available to them” (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden (2000)
p.193).

However, in the most recent years, Avramidis et al. (2000) conducts a survey using
the Likert scale measuring the teacher’s beliefs regarding inclusion, a
semantic differential scale measuring the emotional reactions when dealing with
newly included SEN children and another Likert scale measuring intentions.
While the results were significantly better, teachers having a positive
attitude towards special needs children and their inclusion, it is very
important to realize that they can only provide help up to a certain point,
therefore the children would not be able to develop.

The solution to this problem is for the
children with ASD to attend a special school. It has been reported that
children who receive some type of help, either from a teacher figure or from a
specialist, has shown improvement in their speech pattern and behaviour, all
together enhancing their social lives. An example would be the study of 89
children that attended a special needs school from the Netherlands in 2011. The
researchers, Manti et al., were
looking at the 30 teaching hours per week that children received, and the
methods used, more specific structure and control by using objects and
pictograms. “Another basic goal was to enhance children’s socioemotional skills
by providing affective support and eliciting positive affect in order to
increase children’s attention and motivation to socialise with others” (Manti et al. 2011, p.415). After two years of
special school attendance, there was a difference in the scores of children
with ASD than those with other special needs.

However, the study also reported that even if
according to the teachers there was a decrease in autism symptoms, the parents
were not satisfied with the results. A reason for that is that the children, in
this case, behaved differently in structured environments. “In fact, evidence
shows that children with autism perform completely differently in highly
predictable and structured environments, in contrast to more complex and unstructured
environments” (Manti et al. 2011,
p422). Another problem that can occur is when children are not able to develop no
matter how much help is being provided, depending on where they fall in the
autistic spectrum disorder. Usually, more serious cases have been reported unsuccessful.

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