Autism Teaching Children Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1798 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Children



As any well-trained professional will attest to, the overall development of effective teaching strategies for children with autism is only a section of the continuing struggle over whether or not to include autistic children in a normal educational environment as one would find in any public school in the United States. Thus, there continues to be much debate concerning the argument by some that the home of an autistic child should be the prime environment for education as opposed to the other argument that autistic children should be included in classrooms with their "normal" peers. Within the last ten years or so, this situation has altered greatly, due to a number of clinical studies which have shown that young children with autism (5 to 7 years of age) when placed in a "normal" classroom environment do indeed respond favorably. However, controversy and disagreement abound and as Karen S. Exkorn explains it, the main issue is "whether it is best to include autistic children in regular classrooms or to provide separate special education classrooms," all the while keeping in mind "the child's basic civil rights to be part of his/her community and the child's individual requirements for instruction" (2005, 67).


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Since there is no cure for autism at the present time, many types of therapies and behavioral interventions have been created "to remedy specific symptoms" which if used effectively can "bring about substantial improvement" in the child affected with autism. Generally speaking, children with autism face a number of obstacles related to being properly educated, such as "impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and obsessive or repetitive routines and interests," all of which are barriers for teachers and specialized educators when it comes to teaching autistic children. But teachers are all in agreement with one specific area, being that early intervention is the key to solving the problems related to teaching these children (2007, "Autism Fact Sheet, Internet).

Term Paper on Autism Teaching Children With Autism as Any Assignment

According to the Culture of Autism website based in the United Kingdom, all programs designed to teach children with autism must focus on the long-term goal of allowing these children to "fit as well as possible into our society as adults" which can be achieved by "respecting the differences that autism creates within each student and working within his/her culture (i.e., African-American, Hispanic, etc.) to teach the skills needed to function" as independent adults in a world filled with distractions and complications. In addition, teachers and educators themselves must always "work to expand the skills and understanding of the student, while also adapting their environments to their special needs and limitations" (2006, Internet). Exactly how to accomplish these and other long-term goals is the major focus of this paper and with the assistance of several highly-skilled educators and their various theories, it is hoped that these goals will be achieved.


As pointed out by Gary B. Mesibov, writing in Autism: Understanding the Disorder, adult-directed teaching is based on the premise that only parents of autistic children can decide which activities are best suited for their children in a classroom setting. Under normal conditions, this method "involves teaching behaviors one at a time in small, incremental steps and can be especially effective for teaching new skills" (2003, 78). Basically, this method must follow a specific set of sequences. First, the child is given specific instructions on how to do certain things or perform certain actions; second, the child responds to the instructions, and third, the parent and/or teacher provides feedback with positive reinforcement and accolades of achievement" which prompts the child to perform to the best of his/her ability.

As the child achieves satisfaction with whichever skill is placed before him, the parent and/or teacher must attach the importance of this skill to other activities and situations which hopefully will awaken within the child the need and desire to perform just as well (if not better) with other challenges in the classroom or at home. But most importantly, the adult-directed sequence of events/actions must be given in the same order, being "instruction, response and feedback" (Mesibov, 2003, 80).


With this method, the parent and/or teacher follows the lead of the child while also indoctrinating new opportunities into the activities which the child has chosen to focus upon. Of course, the role of the parent and/or teacher is somewhat diminished with this method, for instead of "providing the child with instruction, the parent and/or teacher observes what the child is doing and then imitates his/her actions while also showing new and innovative ways to play with certain objects" (Jordan & Powell, 2002, 134). Thus, through imitation, the child will hopefully understand that other activities can be accomplished that same way. One of the most important advantages of this method is that activities can be done almost anywhere, such as in the classroom, at home or even outside during playtime with other autistic children. Another advantage is that the child will learn to "expand his/her communication skills with other children and thus be able to express his/her feelings while also wishing to share with their peers" (Jordan & Powell, 2002, 135). This method also helps to bring out a child's inner needs and desires which can then be rewarded by furnishing other objects or activities which the child finds most interesting or exciting.


This method is usually used to convey pertinent information to autistic children via visual supports aimed at relating exactly what the parent and/or teacher expects of them. Overall, this method "helps autistic children to utilize their individual strengths related to visualization which often takes the place of their weaknesses in understanding and comprehending language and human expression" (Exkorn, 2005, 158). Certain types of information directed toward an autistic child may not be immediately recognized nor understood, thus by using visual cues, such as symbols and pictures, a parent and/or teacher can convey what needs to be taught. Visual supports and cues can also be used in conjunction with the above-mentioned methods, especially with child-directed activities. For instance, if a child wishes to play with a certain toy that is out of his/her reach, the parent and/or teacher can teach the child to use a picture of that toy which will result in obtaining the toy without endangering the child by having to climb up.


Of course, all of these methods must culminate in some type of reward, due to the fact that research has shown that children, particularly autistic children, respond better and more quickly if they know a reward is in their future. Some of these rewards may include individual attention and various types of what researchers call reinforcers, such as a favorite food, toy or activity like drawing, painting and play pretend. However, a reward for one child may not be considered as such by another child, a situation which can be alleviated by "identifying what types of motivational rewards a particular child desires or likes" (Exkorn, 2005, 136).

When the decision is made by the parent/teacher to utilize rewards, several important suggestions should be kept in mind. First, if some type of physical reward is offered to the child, it should be coupled with a social reward, meaning that the child should be exposed to the good things that can occur related to socializing with other autistic children, and second, all rewards should be aimed at "reinforcing a child's attempts and efforts as well as any and all successes that the child has demonstrated" (Mesibov, 2003, 179).


As a developmental tool, imitation has been shown to be very effective when attempting to teach and/or instruct the autistic child. For "normal" children, imitation is a part of everyday life and is often used in games which involve a number of children. For instance, a number of interactive games, whether ordinary board games or those available on the Internet, help autistic children to imitate each other's actions and reactions while also serving as a powerful learning tool related to specialized skills and even role-playing. However, according to Rita Jordan and Stuart Powell, recent studies have found that children with autism between the ages of 3 and 5 "are less likely to imitate the actions of their peers as compared to "normal" children and those with non-autistic conditions, a trait known as imitation impairment" (2002, 194).

Exactly how this type of impairment might affect a child's overall emotional state and personality is not known, but it is clear that this type of impairment "will create problems associated with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and learning" (Jordan & Powell, 2002, 195). Thus, the parent/teacher should do everything possible to make certain that all autistic children under their tutelage be sufficiently trained to imitate on a daily basis.


The creation and maintenance of effective teaching strategies and programs for children with autism is only a small part of the overall struggle faced by parents and teachers. The argument that the home is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Autism Teaching Children" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Autism Teaching Children.  (2007, September 25).  Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Autism Teaching Children."  25 September 2007.  Web.  8 July 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Autism Teaching Children."  September 25, 2007.  Accessed July 8, 2020.