What is Autism? (And Why Does it Matter to Me?)

Did you know that 1 in 64 children have autism? That means if you go to a church the same size I do, at least one child is likely to have autism. As many as 1 in 6 children in the US may have a developmental disability, the broad category under which autism fits (CDC, 2015). Risk factors are as varied as the disability, but this essentially means that the likelihood of having a child or student with developmental disabilities or autism is not outlandish. Rather, if you are a parent it would not be uncommon, and if you are a teacher it is to be expected.

One of my passions as a student and now as support staff in the world of special education is to educate parents to the signs of autism and other disorders and give them tools to make decisions and manage their child’s behavior and symptoms. Many parents feel that something is “off” or different about their child but are not able to put their finger on it. Other parents would like to homeschool their special needs child but feel overwhelmed by the prospect. This series is designed to be a primer to autism and educating a child with autism or other special needs.

The first post asks, “Why Worry?” and discusses the reasons for being aware of the symptoms of autism and honestly evaluating your child if you feel something isn’t right. The next post will delve further into the technical aspects of what actually defines autism spectrum disorder, how many children have autism, and whether or not rates of autism are increasing. Following that in later posts, I’ll give insider resources and tools for working with your autistics/special needs child or student, pros and cons of different educational options for special needs children, and a guide to planning your child or student’s education. I’ll link to each post that is published here so that you can navigate between them more easily.

If you are a Christian School teacher rather than a parent, please stick around. It is so important for teachers to understand all of their students, not just the typical children. If you feel lost when trying to decide how to educate your students that just don’t learn like everybody else, pay attention. If your student has autism, you need to know about it. If you’re not sure how to modify or alter your special needs student’s curriculum, pay careful attention to the post on Individualized Education Plans. Tricks of the Trade will also have insights for you on tools that will help you motivate your special needs students.

A Short Vocabulary

There are a few terms which will be beneficial to both you as a reader and me as a writer if we both understand what they mean.

Special Needs Child: A child who has different or more needs than the average child.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Commonly referred to as “autism” or “ASD,” this disorder is characterized by social and communication difficulties.

Neuro-typical: Children with autism and developmental delays have different neurological “wiring” than the typical or average child of their age. Rather than calling the average child “normal” and calling children with autism and other disorders “abnormal,” we call the average child “neuro-typical” in reference to the fact that their brains are as we typically expect to find them in a child with no disorders.

Intervention: Something done to alter the behavior or development trajectory of a child with autism, such as teaching them new social behaviors or therapy to assist with developmental delays.

 

I hope you’ll join me at taking a look at autism and why it matters to you!

  1. Intro to Series and Vocab
  2. What is Autism and Why Does it Matter to Me? Part 1
  3. What is Autism and Why Does it Matter to Me? Part 2
  4. Tricks of the Trade – Tools for calming and teaching your autistic or special needs child
  5. Choosing an Educational Option for Your Special Needs Child
  6. Individualized Education Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Plan to Educate your Special Needs Child or Student

 

 

References

Developmental Disabilities. (2015, July 09). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/about.html

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