Sample Argumentative Essay on Child Study on Autism

Abstract

Schools have an important role in promoting equity and inclusion. This paper, therefore, provided an analysis of studies related to this aspect particularly focusing on students with an autism disorder.  The assessment illustrated that inclusion can be encouraged by changing schools rather than changing the students. For this reason, schools can promote inclusion by engaging in constant efforts towards social interaction. Teachers should take responsibility in relation to students diagnosed with autism and welcome parents to their classrooms. The analysis also demonstrated that inclusion can be promoted by teachers acknowledging the expertise and experience held by family members. Schools should also execute creative strategies through stressing on personal abilities of students and supporting positive habits. According to this analysis, various issues affect the level of inclusion and equity in schools. Such many include limited resources from the government, limited knowledge of autism by student, negative teachers’ attitudes, ineffective communication with parents and failure to recognize the contributions and experiences of family members in handling autism children.

Child Study on Autism

Introduction

Learning is an important part of development for children as it prepares for future personal and professional lives their social, physical and economic status notwithstanding. According to Avramidis and Norwich (2002), inclusion involves restructuring the mainstream schooling so that each school can accommodate all children irrespective of their disabilities, while ensuring that all students within a school belong to one community. In a wider sense, as a societal value, inclusion compares to equality in respect to all aspects related to social oppression, disadvantage, and discrimination. All children regardless of their disabilities have legal rights for attending regular classes within their local government’s schools. Indeed, regular classrooms within mainstream schools should generally be considered as the best inclusive choices. Developing a genuinely inclusive system of education that also demonstrates equity requires focusing more attention on changing schools instead of changing the children to comply with the rules/regulations of conventional classrooms. Considering the extra challenges students diagnosed with autism (SDWA) always face in handling change plus the specific distress resulting from educational transitions into unfamiliar environments for these students, there is a burning need to motivate school bureaucrats and educators towards finding ways of responding creatively and flexibly towards all learners’ needs (Bumiller, 2008). Indeed, inclusion involves adapting schools towards ensuring valued involvement of all learners and not conditional assimilation (Cologon, 2013). Schools, therefore, can promote inclusion and equity in the educational system through persistent efforts in social interaction or communication such as teachers being responsible for SDWA, welcoming parents to classrooms, valuing and recognizing family members’ expertise and frequent positive communication between schools and families of the students. Further, this can be done through schools flexible and expanded behaviors like executing creative strategies, focusing on abilities of individual students, supporting positive behaviors, valuing inclusive education related to all students and willingness to accommodate all students (Rapp & Faye, 2001).

Autism

In this analysis, the paper will mainly focus on autism as among the disability facing students. Levy et al (2009) defined autism as the neurodevelopment disorder categorized under the pervasive developmental disorders. Children with autism require schools to put more efforts to enable them receive a fair level of inclusion and equity. In this case, all students diagnosed with autism should enroll in regular classes within mainstream schools and not within a support classroom or specialized schools. For example, despite promises of inclusive education in Australian schools, students suffering from autism remain within segregated settings such that most parents tend to change the schools of their children more often on claims of their children are suffering in their present schools (Lilley, 2011). Therefore, by diverting focus from children to institutional practices that promote exclusion, it will be possible to appreciate AID (Autism Inclusion Disorder) prevalence within schools.

Characteristics of Autism

Autism is characterized by pervasive and severe impairment in mutual socialization, abnormal or repetitive behaviors and qualitative communication impairment (Levy et al, 2009). The major autism symptoms therefore affect domains of communication, socialization, and behavior. Clinical signs are discovered at three years of age although typical development of language may delay symptoms’ identification. Infants at risk show deficit in communication, social responsiveness and play at an age as young as 6 to 12months (Howlin et al, 2009). Children diagnosed with autism show heterogeneity of the clinical severity, phenotype as well as frequency and type of symptoms. Autism characteristics are categorized as follows:

Socialization

  1. Impaired application of the non-verbal behaviors in order to control interactions
  2. Delaying the start of interactions
  3. Lacking to share interests and enjoyments
  4. Delaying peer interactions
  5. Limited or lack of social reciprocity

Communication

  1. Delayed verbal language and lack of non-verbal compensation such as gestures
  2. Impairment in expressive conversation and language
  3. Repetitive language
  4. Delayed social imitative and imaginative play

Restricted, Stereotyped, & Repetitive Behavior Patterns

  1. Preoccupation with restricted topics or interests
  2. Fascination with abnormal visual exploration
  3. Adherence to rigidity, routines and preservative behaviors
  4. Repetitive motor mannerisms

Causes

Autism disorder is largely genetic. Parents and siblings repeatedly show mild and subsyndromal autism manifestations plus the extensive autism phenotype such as delayed language, social language aspects’ challenges, delayed social development, perfectionist behaviors, rigid personality styles and lack of close friendships. According to Levy et al (2009), about 90%of autism cases are attributed to genetic factors thereby implying that the largest portion of this disorder is genetically-based. Spectrum disorder of autism is multifactorial, in that multiple risk factors work in unison to produce this phenotype. Such effects can result from toxic environmental or epigenetic factors, which alter the gene functions thereby altering the neural tissue. Epigenetic factors could be specific aspects associated with the physical environment or psychological experiences such as stress, which alter the brain chemistry thereby turning off the genes or control expression of genes in other ways (Levy et al, 2009).

Reason for more Attention on Autism Students

Separate classrooms and specialized separate school does not support inclusion and equity. Students with autism disorders need more attention from schools to ensure fairness in acquiring academic knowledge just like their normal students’ counterparts.

Research Question

  • What should be changed in helping students suffering from autism spectrum disorder on modern society’s education development?

Statement

In supporting students with autism disorders in their education, there are different people that should change their present situation. To begin with, teachers in regular classes should have positive attitudes and accommodate such students in their classrooms, normal students should acquire more knowledge on autism, parents need to stop transferring their children to specialized schools and students with autism should seek more treatments such as frequent therapies.

Different Issues

Government

Inclusive education requires the provision of adequate and reliable resources. However, it has been discovered that the funding of disabled students has extremely been insufficient to facilitate total participation by disabled students within the education system. Such concerns have made some parents to be reluctant about enrolling their autism children in regular classes thus choosing to take them to segregated placements like the special schools for children with autism. Parents of such students attending government schools have to augment the available resources by availing funds to cater for the additional paraprofessional support or through hiring their own staffs to handle their children on individual basis at the school. Although families with higher financial capability maybe in a better place of supporting inclusive education for their children, this can de-motivate systemic change resulting to serious class inequalities in supporting disabled students even within government’s education sector (Rapp & Faye, 2001).

Students

Barger and Campbell (2011) observed that students within middle schools do not have adequate autism knowledge. Under such limited knowledge, such students lack the ability to accept their fellow autism students within general educational environments. Proper and sufficient educational messages in peer education consist of the composition of autism, a description of similarities between peers and autism students and behavioral suggestions to help in autism students’ inclusion. Explanatory information regarding autism are based on the fact that availing peers with adequate and accurate information regarding autism serves as a way of correcting misattributions of the autism students’ behaviors and correcting faulty knowledge associated with autism causes. Moreover, the social attribution theory asserts that attributing purposeful intent towards troublesome behaviors leads to negative emotional responses such as annoyance, anger, or social withdrawal. For instance, peers can interpret autism students’ tendencies of engaging in abnormal behaviors like social isolation as intentional.

However, correcting such misattribution through effective explanatory information helps in encouraging proper responses while also enhancing good social interactions between autism students’ and their peers. Elementary school students that lack such information destroy their attitudes towards their autism students’ counterparts and their subsequent behaviors. In addition, incorrect knowledge concerning the autism nature and etiology may result in social rejection. For example, peers may avoid students that have such medical disorders because of erroneous perceptions that the condition could transmittable or contagious (Bares & Gelman, 2008). For this reason, children in mainstream schools needs to be taught various issues concerning diverse disorders like autism such as what its nature, causes, and treatments. Contagion-based reasoning tends to be more dominant among peers including students in older groups that are expected to have greater cognitive understanding and sophistication of autism. According to Barger and Campbell (2011), this illustrates a clear need for availing adequate and effective explanations of autism that are understandable across all ages as well as to peers that have limited familiarity and contacts with autism students.

Drager and Schwartz (2008) found out that the professional knowledge concerning autism among peers is very limited. This has been so, despite the critical importance linked to supporting autism students within mainstream educational settings. For this reason, peers autism knowledge is vital to facilitate the understanding and potential modification for inclusion purposes of students with autism. A study conducted by Morgan and Swaim (2001) discovered that none of the students in the elementary school could offer a logical definition of autism. Some students also have only heard of autism and none can offer a sensibly correct disorder definition. Surprisingly also, some students have never even heard of autism and therefore are not familiar with the term. Another area of importance in understanding the knowledge of autism among middle school students relates to the method used in fostering autism students’ inclusion within general educational settings. Moreover, individual schools and school districts differ in extent to which autism students’ inclusion is encouraged and supported. This also includes the extent to which peers are ready to welcome students with autism disorders in their regular education environment.

Teachers

Teachers have always demonstrated constant shortfalls in social communication or interaction across different contexts. Lilley (2015, p. 388) stated that among the most dominant shortfalls relates to their inability in interacting with ‘students diagnosed with autism’ (SDWA
). One major example can be observed in school practices where the biggest role of assisting a disabled child’s learning is delegated to an assistant teacher. In this case, such children do not receive the appropriate learning they deserve like other normal children since the main teacher does not engage in teaching the autism students. In fact, such students have been seen to experience internal classroom exclusion with minimal efforts on integration leave alone inclusion.

Similarly, teachers plus other personnel in the school may have serious difficulties in maintaining relationships. Such challenges may limit the teachers’ ability in engaging with the SDWA.  The engagement limitation may further extend to the child’s family members especially mothers. In this regard, Stoner et al (2005) posited that teachers might view parents as enemies or peripheral to their children’s education. Among the communication or social shortfall that has the most intense impact upon families relate making parents develop unwelcome feelings in schools such as mothers’ exclusion from classrooms.

Lilley (2015) added that teachers also illustrate problems in their communication with families. Further, constant negative communications are similarly dominant issues. Such communication shortfalls pose specific problems to families of SDWA since their children are unable to speak-out concerning school matters or present their own accounts concerning classroom events. Parents whose autism children attend regular classes within mainstream schools often complain of lack of reporting feedback. Teachers make decisions without consulting them and that they are not allowed to have meetings with the classroom teachers. In fact, parents have to follow protocol in that their communication must go through the school’s education department’s representatives. However, in some cases, there is completely no communication between parents and teachers. For instance, a parent may observe consistent negative reports within her child’s communication book. In such a case, efforts by such a parent to initiate a discussion with the teachers concerning such negative comments are futile.

Another social problem happens when teachers fail or are unable to utilize the expertise or knowledge held by the child’s family members. For instance, mothers tend to have widespread knowledge as well as experience in relation to teaching their disabled children. Nonetheless, educators or teachers lack interest in applying such knowledge in that they have difficulties integrating parental suggestions or even recognizing such parental expertise (Cole, 2007). In such circumstances, mothers feel devalued thereby changing their attitude concerning mainstream schooling for their autism children.

Undoubtedly, teachers tend to marginalize SDWA. In this case, they fail to implement creative strategies that can include such students in most school/classroom activities especially because of stereotyped understanding concerning autism. Similarly, lack of inclusive strategies is because of rigid adherence towards negative management of behaviors. Children are sometimes excluded from school life aspects because of presumptions concerning preferences and behaviors such as being overwhelming or extremely noisy for autism students. According to Lilley (2015), this level of marginalization is because persons with autism disorders are considered as genetically odd or dangerous. Other unimaginative and restricted practices are observed in behavior management whereby schools are applying policies of supporting positive behaviors such that teachers exhibit tendency towards punishing and application of aversive. For this reason, many parents may prefer taking their children to more segregated environments like the autism-specific schools where teachers have better and specialized training. In addition, teachers’ behaviors particularly those with special expertise in autism are at times characterized with inflexibility. The teachers are extremely rigid in their specific ways of doing things. In this case, autism classification becomes detached from the specific persons while being replaced with teachers’ reactions that are limited by stereotypes thereby prompting inflexible behaviors. Teachers lack the ability to genuinely make individualized accommodations in supporting SDWA due to being rigid on how they do things (Rapp & Faye, 2001).

Teachers’ attitude is another issue facing the successful implementation of inclusion in the education system. Avramidis and Norwich (2002) persons that are distant from students like the school advisers and administrators tend to demonstrate more positive attitudes towards integration in comparison to those closer to students within the classroom context comprising of teachers. Headteachers tend to have the highest level of positive attitudes towards integration as well as the special education teachers. However, the classroom teachers in mainstream schools have the highest level of negative attitudes towards integration. Teachers from special schools accept children with physical or intellectual disabilities more compared to their counterparts in mainstream schools. For this reason, special education teachers tend to embrace inclusion more than their counterparts in mainstream schools (Padeliadou & Lampropoulou, 1997).

Parents

Although theorists argue that schools needs to change rather than the students to ensure inclusive education, parents always share the belief that their children have to change in order to suit within an education system. Some parents hold that it depends with a child whether he/she can handle being included within a school or not. Mothers, especially keep hoping that when they take their children to mainstream schools, they will change and behave like other normal children. Nevertheless, when parents feel their children do not fit within a particular school, they opt to transfer them into segregated settings of environments where they perceive that their children’s shortfalls can be remediated via pedagogical methods associated with special education (Runswick-Cole, 2008).

Discussion and Conclusion

The above discussion has provided a broad child study on autism, plus the role played by schools in promoting equity and inclusion. The discussion has indicated that inclusion can be encouraged through changing schools rather than changing the students. Therefore, schools can promote inclusion through constant efforts in social interaction or communication such as teachers being responsible for SDWA, welcoming parents to classrooms, valuing and recognizing family members’ expertise and frequent positive communication between schools and families of the students. Similarly, this can be done through executing creative strategies, focusing on abilities of individual students, supporting positive behaviors, valuing inclusive education and accommodating all students. The study specifically focused on autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by pervasive and severe impairment in mutual socialization, abnormal behaviors and qualitative communication impairment. Government has been affecting the level of inclusion due to providing inadequate resources. Inclusion is also affected because students have limited knowledge concerning the autism disorder. Teachers’ attitude, poor communication with parents, not welcoming parents to classrooms and failure to recognize families’ expertise in handling autism children has been discouraging inclusion.