Many people associate autism with the famous movie “Rain Man” featuring the fabulous Dustin Hoffman. Only few people though really know what autism actually is and means.
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behaviour. There are many forms of autism and everyone is peculiar: sometimes autism can guarantee a “normal life”, sometimes cannot.
Autism is different from the most popular mental syndromes (such as down syndrome for example) because it can be diagnosed at the age of 2 or 3.
This fact represents one of the many reasons why early education is necessary (many forms of autism can be recognised during preschool )
Preschool for all the babies focuses on children development and thanks to preschool, it can be easier to find out many pathologies like autism because students spend most of their time playing, discovering many new things and growing up together.
In a preschool classroom identifying an autistic child is easier than at home. In fact we know different signals that a little child may exhibit:
- she/he is indifferent to other children
- she/he participates at games and classroom’s life only if an adult insists otherwise she/he prefers to stay alone
- she/he tends to repeat herhimself
- she/he is no much creative when he plays
- she/he has no eye contact
- she/he is able to do hard things but these do not include social interaction
- she/he doesn’t want to have friends
- she/he has no relationships with others?
- she/he doesn’t like new things
- she/he is scared by noise
Early diagnosis is essential for developing potentials of autistic children. In fact thanks to a correct comprehension of disability, we can minimize the problems that might occur and find out great things that an autistic student can actually do.
The best conditions for having a good school system for autistic children are based on the cooperation between family, teachers and doctors. It is not always easy to find out whether your child has a disability and that’s why parents need support too. It can be useful, for example, to explain to the autistic baby’s family the different kinds of therapy that might be effective and give them some positive examples in order to pursue all the possible goals the child can achieve.
Also, assistants and teachers need a specific training experience hosted by specialists. They must have the possibility to share their experience and ask for help when they need it.
What does school have to assure?
- Good physical environment: an autistic child needs clear demarcation of the areas, minimal visual distractions and safe furniture.
- Less noise as possible
- Visual support: an autistic student may find help with visual targets. He can recognize what to do and how to organize his daytime (autistic people are generally very methodical).
If you are scared of autism you can try to get through your fear by checking out Temple Grandin’s story. Miss Grandin is an American woman affected by autism since the age of 2. Thanks to preschool inclusion, good therapy and with the constant help of her mother, Temple started building up her own future and, step by step, she received the perfect education to become who she is now: a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University.
Temple’s “route” wasn’t easy at all but she’s never given up. In 2010 she was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the “Heroes” category and, above all, everyday her classrooms are filled of students enthusiastic about listening her lessons to build their future.
Check out Temple Grandin’s experience at http://templegrandin.com/