The World of the Autistic Child: Understanding and Treating Autistic Spectrum Disorders

By Bryna Siegel | Go to book overview

PART II
Treatment Resources

There is no one way to educate a child who has autism or PDD, any more than there is only one right way to educate a nondisabled child. There are some general principles that apply, and different philosophies supported by different groups of educators. Rather than designating an educational philosophy as "right" or "wrong" (for example, being "for" or "against" mainstreaming), we'll go through the pros and cons of each issue and try to place you, as a parent or as a professional planning for the education of an autistic child, in the position of being able to weigh what will best meet appropriate goals for your child.

When speaking of children with developmental disabilities, the term "education" is often used more broadly than it is with nonhandicapped children. Usually, it is interpreted to include early skills that usually don't first emerge in school--like learning to talk--and can also include adaptive behaviors such as becoming toilet-trained or learning to eat with utensils or, for older students, learning to ride a bus or hold a job. Academic subjects are, of course, included too, and can be taught either in the usual way, or with more of a functional focus. (In Chapter 13, we'll discuss guidelines for selecting appropriate content for a particular child's educational program.)

Each year, parents are faced with negotiating a new individual educational program (IEP) for their child (as will be discussed in Chapter 8). Another critical point occurs each September, whenever a new teacher is introduced and/or the child moves to a new classroom. Having a good IEP is one thing, having it implemented as planned is another. Parents are basically put in the default position of being the consumer watchdogs of their child's special education. Therefore, as a

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