The current trends in the professional interest of Autism Spectrum revolves around medical research into possible causes, treatments and education practices that should take into account cognitive thinking and learning patterns associated with autism spectrum disorders (Dodd, 2005). Research into the education practices meant to improve the learning process of children and adolescents has generated discussions between the key stakeholders and especially the parents and teachers. With increased concern, research studies outline that education practices largely form the background of care that such children or adolescents need. This paper will therefore merge the needs of parents, teachers and autistic children in the need to coordinate in terms of the most productive education practices.
Current trends in educational practices reveal a vacuum left in the practices and inclusion of measures meant to help autistic individuals. In his writing, Prizant (2008), observes that the lack of reading from ‘the same page’ in professionals and autistic families has devastating effects on medical, educational and other forums concerning autism. As a parent the emotions running with the care of an autistic child should find professionals who completely understand the need to build a trusting relationship, as Prizant notes (2008).
In the education sector the same concern raise by Prizant (2008) leads to a non inclusive process. Autistic children and adolescents demonstrate uneven pattern patterns of development ranging from verbal and non-verbal communication skills to social skills, as indicated by Dodd, (2005). In adolescents these characteristics may include poor communication skills resulting in peer avoidance and interaction, intense interests or pursuits which are usually isolative and may seem obsessive, inability for self organization and productivity, overt self interest and preference to predictable events as noted by Willey (2003). These difficulties may therefore lead to problems in social interaction as or other behavioral problems as Dodd puts it that, one challenge ‘exacerbates difficulties in another ‘(2005).
Armed with these facts, research indicates that teachers and other professionals in school settings do not get the gravity of these facts and in response it becomes a complex issue to care for autistic individuals (Carrington & Robinson, 2006). Moni and Hay (2009) thus wrote that there is need for transition in secondary schools. In this respect, therefore, the issues lie in inclusive strategies of a school community to help respect and aid one another. Senge’s (2000) observation that expecting children to conform to the laid out strategies and structures of a school is a recipe for failure since it only indicates attitudes and values that indifferent to the whole process.
Carrington, (2000) believes that different sets of beliefs and assumptions should demand different practices for an inclusive education program. In this respect therefore, the advocate for this inclusive education program through the following measures (Carrington & Robison, 2006). Carrington and Robison, suggest that the following principles may help in the process. They include, development of a learning community that incorporates a critical friend, valuing and collaborating with parents an the broader community, engaging students as citizens in school review and development and finally supporting the teacher’s critical engagement with inclusive and ideal practices (Carrington & Robison, 2006).
This is echoed by the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders, (2010) which observes educational services in schools for children and adolescents with autism should follow guiding principles as listed. The board outlines the following, that every ASD child or adolescent should have access to educational service appropriate to their needs, that all government and non-government educational sectors should provide educational services that cater to the needs of children and adolescents with an ASD, educational services must be responsive to all children and adolescents across the autism spectrum and that there should be a range of educational services for children and adolescents with an ASD.
In addition, educational services must address the students’ needs in communication, social skills, learning, sensory issues and behavior and include family involvement, increased provision of teacher education and training to improve the capacity of educational services to provide for students with an ASD, educational services are based on sound evidence and quality indicators, and finally following an application for service, enrolments should proceed in a timely manner to ensure students with ASD access appropriate educational services as soon as possible (Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2010).
In conclusion, therefore, what parents need and want from teachers is a combination or all of the above, strategies and concerns to ensure that education for ASD children and adolescents lead to success in their lives. If teachers would drop the non inclusive attitudes, beliefs and practices and embrace inclusive community strategies as outlined in this paper developed from research materials and working papers then the question would lie answered for the benefit of everybody.
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