I have done a general study of the autistic spectrum both during my B.Ed and when we tried to set up an early intervention kindergarten centre for autistic children. Autism is a spectrum disorder and so generalizations about inclusion, therapy etc will not be valid throughout the wide spectrum, which has been my understanding. I have some wonderful books on autism written by experts and parents who have struggled and won with the education of their autistic children.
Reading about the child in Jamnabai and siding with the parents is all good but we need to focus on the main issue, does this kind of inclusion in a crowded classroom with no adaptations for autism help this autistic child? Here we are not to be worried about the ‘disturbance’ to the other 44 children but the ‘disturbance’ to the already frail mind state or emotional state of the autistic child.
In some kinds of autism the children are very very sensitive to crowds, loud sounds, and constant chatter and hate the constant change in adults. Such children would not thrive in an inclusive environment as all this would be constantly grating on their nerves.
This child has been in this environment since 2007, what is the opinion of the therapists, is this kind of an environment really helping this child?
Yes, autism, deaf and mute and dyslexia are in the news these days, thanks to the movies and yes schools in the past have been insensitive to such kids but inclusion is a decision that needs to be taken not by the school or government or any such body, such decisions should be left to the experts, the medical and therapy experts who take care of such children, they are the best judge of whether inclusion in a regular classroom will really help the condition of the autistic child or only the social morale of the child and the family.
I think a discussion needs to be initiated on this at the earliest and instead of forcing inclusion on children who would actually not benefit from it, it would be better to think of options that would aid the growth of such children. Let’s move away from the two extreme ends of inclusion and exclusion and think of a more moderate and sensitive way in which to help these kids adjust, grow and thrive.