Children with autism still do not have full inclusion in society and this is not their fault, they are not responsible, but the ignorance of some people who live with them, who take care of them and even who teach them. From time to time there are news that a minor with this disorder has been expelled from class, from a school bus or from their special education center, experiences that they, sometimes, do not understand, but that deeply damage them, and not only to them, but also their families and everyone around them.
Many times these unpleasant situations occur due to the lack of training and truthful information that still exists in society about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Being aware and tackling these deficiencies can achieve the full adaptation and inclusion of these minors in society, at school. The number of school-age children with autism could be around 50,000 in Spain; While in Europe and the United States it is estimated that there is a prevalence of one case of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for every 150 school-age children, according to Autism Spain.
“In recent weeks, a lot of news has been jumping in the press about children with educational support needs who have had to be transferred from their schools due to, let’s say, malpractice by the teachers they were with,” says the expert. Pilu Hernández Dopico, Diploma in Teaching and Special Education and Teacher of Special Education, Hearing and Language. “And so that this does not happen, it should be monitored, because that we are civil servants does not mean that we have already done everything (…) remember that we are working with little people who have a heart and above all we have to be empathetic, remember that we must treat these children as if they were our children, ”adds Hernández.
For Hernández, it is essential that we do not do what we would not like to be done to us: “This would be much easier if from the faculties we made all future teachers know how to care for children with needs, with autism.” “Many times,” he continues, “and the inclusion of ordinary cabbages in classrooms is increasingly palpable, which is fabulous news, but more and more teachers tell me: I have received a child with these characteristics and no I know what to do. So we ask for more training, and from the administrations, more practical courses, because the theory is very good in the books, but then you have to put it into practice and that is what very few places are taught ”.
“When a child is diagnosed with autism, teachers must take into account the special educational needs they need, and those needs can be very different between some children and others with ASD. For example, ”he continues,“ if a specific child with the happy birthday song is going to react with a crisis, obviously that tutor works with that child for that specific type of care. On the other hand, if we want these to be more included in the educational system, in reality, any child is different, whether or not they have autism, they will always have certain needs, so we must attend to those individual needs of each one of them ”, he emphasizes. “We all like a smile, we all like a pat, we all like normality. We are all different. We all have a side that distinguishes us from the rest, so there is no need to make any kind of difference ”, explains Hernández. As for her colleagues, the professional indicates that nothing special should be done. “Each student is different and has their peculiarities, all they have to do is include them in the group as just another student,” he says.
Autism, what is it and what are its symptoms?
The DSM-5, bible of Psychiatry, describes Autism Spectrum Disorders, within Neurodevelopmental Disorders – a group of conditions that appear early in childhood. These children are characterized by persistent difficulties in social communication and social interaction in various contexts; restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Symptoms must be present early in the developmental period (but may not fully manifest until social demand exceeds limited capacities, or may be masked by strategies learned later in life. These cause clinically significant impairment in the social, occupational or other important areas of habitual functioning, and these alterations are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual development disorder) or by global developmental delay, since intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder with often coincide.
“The most characteristic symptoms of these little ones are eye contact and the social smile,” adds the expert. “Its symptoms develop progressively and in some cases appear as early signs in the first months of life. Possibly the first sign that has been identified has been the decrease in eye contact that becomes visible between two and six months of life ”, continues the expert. According to Hernández, another early sign is the decrease in the social smile, although after six months sensory symptoms or more nonspecific alterations may also appear, such as motor alterations: “At around 15 months these symptoms will be more evident.” For all this, children with autism can present strange behaviors that are incomprehensible to some people. They are minors who may not respond to their name or look at the source of the sound: “They seem to be always or absent.”
“Besides,” Hernández continues, “many like repetitive games; they do not usually share interests with others, they tend to repeat words and phrases; Their interests are obsessive and they may be stereotypical, such as flapping their hands, rocking, or spinning in circles. Before sharp sounds, smells, texture or colors, they can have unexpected reactions ”, he concludes. All this should be known and taken into account in order to interact with them, both in theory and in practice.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.