Autism is a condition that continues to be misunderstood by a large segment of American society. Even though researchers have learned a lot about autism, how to identify it, and how to best help children with autism, more work needs to be done to provide more educational resources for children with autism.
The good news is there are now several excellent schools for children with autism. That, alone, is a pretty big deal, because there are finally schools and curricula that have been developed specifically for kids with autism. Sure, special education programs and schools for children with learning disabilities have been around for many years, but autism is a highly complex neurological disorder that can range from mild to severe.
Given the vast differences between individuals with mild autism and those with severe autism, researchers have come up with the notion of an autism spectrum. Thus, if a child is suspected of having autism, a proper diagnosis is needed to find out where upon this spectrum he or she might fall.
Since autism is disorder that manifests primarily through social interactions, a child with mild autism will be independent and highly functional, but with certain social idiosyncrasies that might appear “awkward” to others. On the other hand, a child with the most severe form of autism will not usually interact or communicated clearly with other people at all. Children with severe autism will usually grow into adults who need assistance throughout life.
Since the characteristics of children with autism vary widely, only a professional possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, educators and parents can make a decision regarding which special education programs might be right for their children.
As we continue more about autism and how to better serve children with autism, it is crucial to realize that choosing the right special education programs for a child can make a significant difference in their lives in both the present, and as adults.