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Autism: The Divide Between Children

Autistic children need the same opportunities.

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The CDC has reported that autism effects one in 68 American children today. Autism is a very broad mental handicap that can be clinically defined as a condition or disorder that begins in childhood which causes issues with having successful relationships and communicating in an understandable way. Many autistic children have issues with behavioral, developmental, cognitive and psychological development. Among these development issues are; compulsive behavior, speech delay, unaware of other's emotions, intense interest in a limited number of things, anxiety, and inappropriate social interaction. The severity of these issues depends on the child, as well as which symptoms the child may have.

This disability tends to cause school systems to group the autistic children with the less intelligent. Therefore, these children begin to believe that they are different or less important than average children due to the treatment they receive. Many of the autistic children are sent to do their work with Special Education teachers instead of being placed into a normal classroom. While in some instances these circumstances do work, a good portion of the time these Special Education teachers are spread too thin throughout the school system. Some school districts only having one Special Education teacher for elementary school and one Special Education teacher for the high school. Often, there are other students with more severe handicaps, such as Down Syndrome. Many autistic kids feeling neglected or not receiving the material they are capable of completing. These small things can lead these children to believe they are too different, unintelligent or disabled to achieve what average children are able to achieve.

Morgan Day, an 18 year old incoming freshman at Bowling Green State University, mentions, "One of my cousins went to school, and I never went there, but I have to say it must not have been a very good school. She was a lot to handle, so they told her mom that she was not allowed back!" Day, referring to how the public school system is not capable of handling autistic children in the appropriate way, shows the divide between average children and children with disabilities, especially autism. Autistic children who are expelled or sent to special schools are generally divided from average children, causing their already poor social skills to worsen over time.

While these special and safe areas to learn are great in theory, many of these educators have not been properly trained in how to handle autistic children. After being asked about his training as a special education teacher, Andrew Barker, a Special Education teacher in the Mineral Ridge, OH school district states that he was not really taught about how to teach and handle autistic children because, "there is no 'normal' for autism." This is the sad truth. Children diagnosed with autism all have different symptoms and issues.

So, how are we going to be able to teach our future generation of teachers to better help these children? They need experience. We need our teachers to know how to help these kids learn because they are just kids, begging for a learning opportunity.


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