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Autism is a psychiatric illness that involves a person from the time he or she is a toddler and is marked by difficulties in communicating and forming relationships with the children around them, as well as in the use of abstract and language meanings. It is a neurological condition that allows those who have it to understand, see, and experience the world in ways that other people do not. Autism is not considered a disease; rather, it is considered a disorder that cannot be healed. Many people believe that being autistic is a fundamental part of their personality. It is also worth mentioning that autism is a spectrum condition and all people faced with the challenge of autism share some difficulties but being autistic usually affects them in several ways. Some autistic individuals are also faced with challenges within classroom settings, mental health issues or myriad other conditions; this is to mean that individuals require different support levels. All individuals on the autism spectrum develop and learn. With the right amount of support, all autistic children can be assisted to live a more fulfilling life of their choosing. This paper is going to give invaluable insights concerning a program that can enable learning for children with Autism.
Enabling Learning in Children with Autism
Due to the normalcy in growth in the developmental stages of a child, autism may not be noted, and this usually leads to skipping of some of the essential factors of growth and development of a child. It is sometimes impossible to solve this problem because it is unrecognizable at the tender age. Children with autism have been associated with learning challenges such as; expression, communication, comprehension and even the ability to socialize with their peers.
The moment the disability is discovered, and then it is important to set a program that will enable the autistic children not only to grow normally but also to be independent in their lives. This condition affects both the victim and the family of the victim. The effectiveness of their improvement will depend on crucial factors whose presence in the program is inevitable.
Empowering Learning in Autism Children Program; an Overview
Empowering Learning in Autism Children (ELAC) program will not only instill social skills in autistic children but will also enable them to fit in the society like other kids without feeling despised or extraordinary. The other benefits that will be associated with this program include helping children with language skills; social skills; exceptional learning such as through games, computers, videos, pictures, etc.; and paced learning according to students understanding.
The ELAC program will ingrain oral skills into autistic children using creative arts, starting from the simplest of vocabularies to the complicated ones. Creative linguistic skills will help the student relate the art with the vocabulary and therefore be able to understand quickly. The art will also create interest in the student's mind making the subject much simpler and even easier to follow the basic instructions.
The program will also ensure total involvement of the autistic children in learning and the development of social skills. Such participation will greatly help to improve social skills of the children involved. The social skills will be achieved through the creation of a mechanism that demonstrates a dialogue such as animated question and answers conversations. Animation can be done digitally using computers. The subjects will be introduced through an animation program that may involve a cartoon asking a question and the other answering and explaining the answer. This artistic approach is fun and exciting to the students and will help improve the social skills. In addition to that, there will be a need to involve a lot of colors because children are attracted to color.
The program will involve more of outside classroom activities such as games, songs. Games increase the activeness of children and improve their social skills. The teacher can also formulate some learning games such as question and answer games and drawing and naming of different objects. Autism usually requires a lot of patience by the teachers and these games and computer animation learning can give the teacher adequate time to create their lesson plans and innovate other effective ways to ease learning and understanding.
Paced Learning according to Student’s Understanding
Most autism children are slow in learning. The program will ensure that teaching progress by the knowledge of the students. The teachers will also be expected to cope with the student's pace and to exercise patience (Ellen, 2012). The program will also facilitate groupings whereby the students will be grouped according to their learning pace and understanding. Some of the most important features in the program will include.
Innards of the curriculum
Innards of the curriculum analyze the behavior of different students and their response to various provocations. Some of the major things that will be investigated here will include;
Among the core features of autism is the victim’s inability to interpret and classify different simulations from both the internal and external environment. Children living with Autism can exhibit different attention alertness according to their interest. Different autism children respond to what they are most interested in and therefore variation in concentration skills. Research has also justified that these victims deal with visual stimuli such as videos and pictures. Some also portray inability to swing attention from one activity to another making it difficult to teach them new things. Some also are unable to respond to simultaneous stimuli and get easily irritated by them. Unresponsiveness comes as a result of an inability to prioritize and change attention. Another common feature of autism is imitation. The ability to learn and understand is determined by doing what other children do and trying to copy different events from the environment such as sounds and movements. Copying can be used as a capable tool for teaching them and therefore important.
Autistic children usually struggle with communication regarding understanding and comprehending. In the effort to try to communicate, these kids use objects they like and actions. Attention is therefore needed to understand their way of communicating without frustrating them.
Autistic children also struggle to interact. Some like being isolated while others notice other kids by trying to engage them and imitating them. Autism requires a unique and a supportive environment that is considerate on the conditions of the victims. The environment should also provide for generalization and therefore should be more of an open and physical environment. The learning surroundings should be set in a strategic way with boundaries to enable the autistic children to understand faster the purpose for each segment or area. The program will ensure the learning environment is favorable for the children
Target and Settings
The program will mainly focus to work with the public sector in particular schools and hospitals. Various schools have been established to cater for disabled children in particular autism children. In some other places, autism children share same classrooms with other normal children. These would form a valid basis for the program implementation. The school environments will also create a pleasant setting for the program. Hospitals will also establish efficient settings for the program implementation.
Benefits Driven Model
The theory adopted in the development of the program is the benefits driven model which has included all the current changes in recreation programming. The model focuses on achieving the set objectives of the program by adopting the new educational, recreational and social strategies (Kraus, 1996). It associates parks, recreation, and leisure with the benefits gained from them. After identification of advantages gained from recreational activities, it then formulates those benefits into some form of a program. Engaging autistic children into these recreational activities stimulate their physicality and emotional status compared to the usual classroom teaching technique (DeGraaf, 1999, p. 45). Other benefits derived from this model include; improved social and personal skills and improved emotionally healthy individuals
Empowering learning in autism children will concentrate more on the leisure activities as a way of learning and engaging the children. These activities will include trips to different places like parks, recreational centers, and engagement into other recreation centers. The kids will also be engaged in sporting activities to improve their social skills and health at the same time.
One of the goals of this initiative is to ensure that autism children additional support needs are recognized and fulfilled. The needs assessment will, therefore, help to identify both the satisfied and unsatisfied needs. For the unmet needs, the program will analyze them and formulate ways through which these needs can be fulfilled. The program will, therefore, provide for assessment and monitoring of individual autistic children to identify their additional needed support. Evaluation will involve the efforts of both the teachers and the local authority. The program will, therefore, provide for research on the local community through interviews and questionnaires to gather the necessary information regarding additional support systems for autistic children. The needed information expected to be acquired from the survey will include;
Inadequacy in social skills training
The information will help in the formulation of strategies that will ensure that the autistic children gain the maximum social skills such as increased leisure activities and other field events.
Barriers to Access To Services Such As Medical
Some autistic children lack adequate access to medical services, and with the address of this problem, the program will ensure that those barriers are identified, and measures are taken to resolve them. Some of the obstacles may include financial constraints and distance to the medical facilities. The program will ensure there is easy access to these services and address the financial difficulties.
Inadequacy of physical therapy
Physical therapy can be achieved more through field events and extra-curriculum activities. These events lay the basis for this program and therefore will ensure maximum engagement.
Follow-up services to autistic children
There is usually poor follow-up of autistic children’s well- being because most children in the society take the disability as usual and incurable and therefore lays no stress to the monitoring program. The program will provide for the motivational session to encourage parents with autistic children follow up on the children’s status.
Family support to the victims
Most parents do not offer the required amount of support to the autistic children. The program will guide the victim’s family on the kind if support that these kids need.
One of the features of autism is the incapacity to control emotions(Max Mcclure, 2012). The victims become irritated easily, and therefore it’s important to ensure that maximum effort is put to help them control their emotion. On another perspective, these children should be shown acceptance and love by the society which plays a great role towards their development.
The above information will help to understand the autism children well and the challenges they face. It will also contribute to measuring the degree of the society concern on these kids and the willingness to ensure equality is achieved for these kids. The accuracy and relevance of the above information will depend on the type of questions asked during the interviews and questionnaires. Some of the important issues in the program are shown in the table below:
Personal views on autistic children regarding education
Adequacy of social skill training and physical therapy
Personal suggestions as to additional support needs
Apart from interviews and questionnaires, the program will also rely heavily on documented information such as the previous programs and records. Although some may be out of date, most previous programs will pave the way regarding what to expect from the needs assessment and the effective methods to gather the information. Previous records such as data will also help to incorporate all the relevant facts in the program to develop a superior program.
The needs assessment will best be conducted during holidays to ensure a variety of information from different children when the whole society is available. It also helps to analyze the relationship of the autistic children with the community. It also will provide ample time for intensive survey and interviews. The information gathered will then be used to develop a super program that will cater for all the issues affecting the autistic children. The program will be presented to both schools and hospitals to help improve the condition that leaves these victims vulnerable in the society. The program will, in turn, assist in the betterment of the children lives regarding learning, social and personal life.
The program will work with the aid and approval of disabled community associations or human right groups comprising of all gender and un- religious biased. The reason for these groups is because they understand disability and therefore are full of ideas on ways to improve the lives of the disabled in the society. These associations are also experienced because they deal with such issues and therefore will offer guidance on what to include and exclude in the program. They will, therefore, serve a strong base for the program implementation and rectification. The groups will also forma solid foundation for influences such as sponsorships, especially in the financial sector.
It is worth mentioning that autism is a condition that can affect any child and the moment the world understands the better. A program such as ELAC will be of help to children with Autism and empower them to have equal opportunities to grow and develop as their counterparts.
DeGraaf, D. a. (1999). Programming Theories. In D. a. DeGraaf, Programming theories.
Ellen. (2012). Ten things every child with autism wish you knew (2nd ed.). Retrieved from www.autismspeak.org
Kraus, R. (1996). Recreation programming; A benefits- driven approach (1 ed.). Pearson. Retrieved from www.pearsonelt.com
Max Mcclure. (2012, August 13). Stanford researchers investigate the emotional side of autism. Stanford News. Retrieved from www.news.stanford.edu
Prizant, Barry M.; Wetherby, Amy M.; Rubin, Emily; Laurent, Amy C.; Rydell, Patrick J. (2005). T cents(TM) model: A comprehensive educational approach for children with autism spectrum disorders. ERIC. Retrieved from www.eric.ed.gov
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