When providing educational programing for children with autism, staffers should have the knowledge and the resources not just to teach skills but to actually improve the child’s neurological function. It is important to include interventions to improve the fluidity and modulation of movement, improve auditory and visual processes, and lessen sensory disturbances.
Programing for severely autistic children needs to look beyond ABA-Applied Behavioral Analysis. Most of these highly disorganized out of sync kids would if they could, but they can’t, so they won’t. Pain overrides compliance. (I.e., If a train is running over your foot, nothing else matters.) These kids need to feel balanced, safe, and comfortable in their bodies for effective skill development to occur. They need more than educational programming. Most require a therapeutic environment.
Staffers need to have the knowledge and the resources not just to teach skills but to relieve discomfort and improve neurological function. Movement, rhythm disturbances, and complex sensory issues affect the ability to attend and learn. Not adequately trained, most teachers struggle to meet the needs of complex neurological and central nervous system differences.Frequently, Staffers who lack appropriate training confuse these difficulties with behavior or cognitive ability.
Creation of therapeutic and productive environments, demands staff education, a collaboration between disciplines, and a change of criteria and delivery models. Experts in the fields of speech, occupational, physical, and vision therapy must work with teachers and parents to create a program specific for severe autism. The parents and staffers must be privy to strategies so they may provide them throughout the day, not just during short therapy sessions that might occur a few times a week.
Selected personnel, appropriately licensed and motivated, could be sent to alternative training sessions. These chosen staff could not only implement strategies but train staff and parents modifications they could use in school and at home to accelerate progress. I.e., Therapeutic listening, auditory integration training, biofeedback, interactive metronomes, binaural beats, rhythmic entrainment programs, massage, movement therapies acupressure, reflexology,
Partnered “energetic” communication strategies would be properly defined and implemented. The emphasis would be on the benefits, as well as the many unknown factors, and risks. Some other energetic modalities to explore are sacral cranial, reiki, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, and hypnotherapy.
Many parents have limited resources to address the complex issues related to the disability of their child. Many children are on Medicaid or similar government programs, which many therapists do not accept. Other parents are under-insured, lack financial resources, or are in survival mode.
School Districts could enlist someone from the ASA-Autism Society of America, to serve as an information source for parents concerning diet, enzymes, supplements, gentle chelation procedures, and other options out there for the savvy and informed parent.
The development of supportive environments would help to ensure maximum use of resources for school districts struggling with budget issues. The chosen site would meet the sensory and motor needs of the children. Schools ideally should have: ” Quiet classrooms with natural light and adequate space for sensory equipment.” Pools and playground equipment that help modulate proprioceptive and vestibular difficulties. ” Proximity to a variety of parks and nature walks ” Close access to community facilities allowing for cost-effective and flexible community-based programs.
Administrators need to arrange a time for teachers, assistants, and parents to consult with the team and implement and refine strategies for the continued optimum growth of each student. As teams develop, roles would overlap; sensory problems, movement difficulties, communication, behavioral concerns, and rhythm issues addressed in all areas of the curriculum throughout the day.
Teachers, assistants, and parents would be more confident in their ability to deal with ongoing complex neurological, sensory, and movement difficulties as they continued to consult and collaborate with experts in specific disciplines. Turbulence and stress in students would decrease as they took refuge in support of highly trained and confident staff.
A paradigm shift of this magnitude demands that little changes continue to occur. Disseminated information about current practices distributed. Programs would be modified, as collaboration and innovation improve. What works for one child may have disastrous effects on another, or it may work now and cease to be useful later. If staffers refuse to be complacent, have options, remain flexible, are open to new ideas, take risks, and provide mutual support, procedures will continue to create a flow of progress.
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