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Get an In-Depth Look at Autism

The understanding of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has changed over the years. The last two decades have seen a rise in the number of children being diagnosed with ASD, and every year, more and more autism research comes out about ASD and various techniques that can be used to help children with ASD.

What Is ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a pervasive developmental disorder. Even though little is understood about the increase, ASD diagnoses have risen over the last 20 years, with some reports saying 1 out of every 88 children are affected. ASD is characterized by:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities
  • Symptoms that are present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life)
  • And symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of current functioning.

Children with ASD can range from mild and able to function in a general classroom setting, to severe and requiring special education teachers to be with them during the entire school day. An educator, parent or community member may refer a student to be tested for special education services if the student shows signs of having ASD.

Working With Students With ASD

A student may be diagnosed with ASD as young as 2 or 3 years old. Childcare workers and caregivers at home can begin working with these children to help with their cognitive and language skills. Autism research has shown there’s no single best treatment for children with ASD, but there are some common practices that have proven to be effective. Training for families is essential if the family has no prior experience with children with ASD. An online master’s degree in special education can put you at the forefront of understanding autism research and best practices so you can help train and provide support for these family members. Curriculum that has proven to help these children focuses on language and communication, social skills such as joint attention (looking at other people to draw attention to something interesting and share in experiencing it), self-help and daily living skills, research-based methods to reduce challenging behaviors, cognitive skills such as pretend play or seeing someone else’s point of view, and typical school readiness skills.

Children with ASD also need additional help and education with social skills training. Sometimes children may be pulled out of classes for one-on-one social skills training with a special education teacher. Other students might receive social skills training during speech therapy, or social skills might be integrated in the general education classroom. Social skills training generally seeks to increase and improve skills necessary to create positive social interactions with other students and peers. It can help these children make friends, be good sports and respond appropriately in a social situation.

Autism is a disorder that researchers learn more and more about each year. In school, you might come across many students with ASD, but each student is unique and a strategy that works with one may not work with another. A master’s degree in special education instructional specialist program is a way to stay current on research-based strategies used for these children.

Learn more about the A-State MSE Special Ed Instructional Specialist online program.


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