The study of communication exceptionalities has become one of the major concerns for educators, psychologists, and social workers. Children or adolescents, who are prone to them, are not always able to display good academic performance, acquire social skills and integrate themselves into the community. A great number of programs and methods have been developed in order to assist them but even now this problem still remains vital. This paper aims to examine such issues as assisting students who suffer from autism. Its symptoms include the inability to shape one’s thoughts into words, diminished responsiveness, reticence, the deficiencies of mental and motor functions, etc (Brock et al, 2006). Infantile autism has been of great interest to scholars; the first attempts to describe and analyze it was made more than fifty years ago. At present such students are frequently isolated from their peers; they do not usually take part in classroom activities and this only aggravates their state (Hersen & Ammerman, 2000). On the whole, we can argue that joint collaboration of teachers, parents, and therapists is required to help these individuals overcome this affliction (Friehe et al, 2003; Lerman et al 2003).
The majority of modern techniques involve tailoring IEP (individualized education plan), which includes appropriate curriculum and counseling. At this point, the most widespread approach is the so-called ABA/ DTT (Applied behavior analysis and discrete trial training) (Siegel, 2003, p 311). It is based on continuous evaluations of the students capacity to interact with others and obtain new knowledge. This method enables to enhance a childs attentiveness and improve his or her observational skills so that he or she could better reproduce the behavior of other people. Overall, this approach heavily relies on a one-to-one conversation between the instructor and the student (McCauley, 2001). It is rather difficult to assess the effectiveness of the ABA/DTT model. Certainly, it yields results especially when the child grows used to the teacher but when this child goes to the classroom comprising ten or fifteen students, he or she can withdraw to himself once again (Hehir, 2006). Some scholars explain such relapses by the inability of some teachers to evaluate the mental and emotional state of the student. In particular, it is necessary to determine whether he is ready to enter an unfamiliar environment (Lerman et al 2003; p 511).
It should be mentioned that during classes, teachers tend to minimize the number of learning activities. In other words, these students are normally engaged with one particular task (for instance, reading, writing, drawing, and so forth) for a long period of time. But these assignments are not alternated (Jewell et al, 2007, p 37). Undoubtedly, he or she can learn new information in this way, but the cognitive skills are not improved. The studies in the field indicate that rotation of schedule and classroom activities can contribute to the treatment of this mental disorder because it will disrupt the monotony of the lesson (Jewell et al, 2007, p 37).
One of the key questions is how to help these individuals establish relations with their peers. First, psychologists and speech therapists strive to eliminate language deficiencies, as autism is accompanied by inarticulate pronunciation, incorrect accentuation, and omission of different parts of the sentence (Ysseldyke et al, 2006, p 20). As far as behavior patterns are concerned, we should speak mostly about observational learning, imitation, and role modeling (Paul, 2003). Normally the sessions are held in a small group setting because a person with such communication exceptionality feels uncomfortable in the company of strangers (Baker, et al 2003, p 40). During these sessions, much attention is paid to the development of the argumentative skills of the students with autistic problems.
At this point, we need to examine the key assumptions about autism. It is believed that this disorder has hereditary origins. Sometimes, it is associated with problems during pregnancy or delivery (Richer & Coates, 2001). On the whole, the origins of this communication disorder are considered to be biological. Perhaps, the roots of this disability might be found in the childs upbringing, the atmosphere in the family, or psychological traumas. Naturally, thorough research has to be conducted in order to trace the origins of autism but perhaps medical workers and psychologists should look at this problem from a different angle. The thing is that modern theories about the causes of autism give practically no tips about its treatment.
This issue has several unique aspects: 1) increased role of parents in screening and prevention. They must be well-aware of the symptoms of the disorder in order to spot it at early stages (Hollander, 2005). In such cases, timely intervention plays the most crucial role. It enables teachers and therapists to tailor individualized programs. Secondly, the efforts of educators will be of no avail unless there are supported by parents who should vary childs pastime. The second aspect is by far the most important one is the choice between one-to-one or classroom teaching (Haynes et al, 2005). Usually, the preference is given to the first option, which means that this student is separated from his or her coevals. Another peculiar feature is the problem of scheduling and planning lessons. It is vital to answer the question of whether the subjects and activities should be frequently alternated or not. We should also take into account that autistic disorders are extremely diverse in their nature. They can be accompanied by mental retardation, anxiety, and other conditions. Therefore, educators have to map out specific strategies for each child.
There are several suggestions that we can make: 1) it is necessary to provide psychological counseling not only to the children but to their parents as well (Friehe et al, 2003, p 211). This experience is always hurtful to them because the disability of the child is always the source of many parentals distresses. Occasionally, they find themselves in utter despair. This may eventually lead to negligence. Hence, parents must be taught how to communicate with their offspring. The counselors should also explain to them how to recognize the marks of improvement or deterioration. 2) Educators should minimize the childs separation from others. As it has been noted before, the lessons can be conducted in a small group setting. Yet, with time passing the number of people in the class should be increased. 3) Thirdly, during classes teachers should alternate assignments and encourage teamwork. This can hypothetically make the childless self-centered.
At the present moment, researchers throughout the world try to work out methods of teaching children with this communication exceptionality. Modern techniques rely on the premise that autism is caused by biological factors. Yet, it seems that more attention should be paid to the social environment. Most importantly, one has to ensure that they are not isolated from their classmates or peers in general and this is not always done.
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