Friday, 6 September 2013

The black, white or grey path for autism?

When we hear the term autism many of us think of Raymond the young man with an encyclopedic memory and amazing math skill portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in his Academy award winning performance in the movie Rain Man. But all autistic people are not Raymond as Autism is a spectrum disorder.

Very much in the news these days is the case of an autistic boy and the question of whether he should be in the school or should be placed in a specialized autistic remedial environment. The RTE act stresses on inclusion, but the B.Ed course does not prepare teachers for this inclusive classroom scenario and thus inclusion becomes a mere illusion on paper.

So in this case who is right? If the school removes this child then the path followed is black, if the school keeps this child in the name of inclusion then the path followed is white, because it would have upheld the rights of the autistic child. But do white and black work in autism both for the child and the other children? No it does not.  The path required is grey. In many aspects of autism the children are sound sensitive and would not thrive in a classroom scenario where the noise, clutter and chaos will only add to their issues. So it is not inclusion (white) or seclusion (black) that is the answer, it is a carefully selected path of grey (integration) that has to be arrived at by the parents, therapists, school and teachers.  

It is not easy to deal with autism cases as there is very little expertise on autism available in India. The global research on autism is also fairly new and being a spectrum disorder each child requires a very individualized plan. It is a spectrum which means that its symptoms and characteristics find expression in many different combinations and in any degree of severity .At one end of spectrum we may find a mute child crouched in a corner of his room, spinning a paper over and over again for hours at the other would be a child who screams nonstop and flaps its arms or tends to lash out physically.

Autistic or autism disorder is one of several pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These disorders are characterized by severe widespread impairment in social interaction and communication skills and stereotyped patterns of behaviors, interest and activities.

There are a range of treatments of autism. Drugs don't cure autism, but many autistic suffer from multiple problems such as depression or seizures, and the drugs can help with those secondary problems.

·         Allergy induced Autism and Casein/Gluten

·         Auditory Training

·         Music Therapy-  

·         Doman/ Delacato Method  

·         Holding Therapy   

·         Sensory Integration Therapy
The Squeeze Machine  

·         Lovaas Method - 

·         The Son-Rise Program taught at the Option Institute and Fellowship

·         Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)  

·         Speech-Language Therapy

·         Occupational Therapy  

·         Vitamin/Mineral Therapy

 The grey path would be the ideal path and the grey path would mean that

1.     The school and teachers would have an individualized plan of interacting and supporting the therapies of the child.

2.     The teachers would understand and incorporate the point of view of the mother/parent in regards to interacting and handling the child in various situations. Sometimes mothers/parents have developed a unique way that works best for the child.

3.     Teachers would not only be trained in understanding autism but the individual case of the child with support from its therapists etc

4.     The parents especially the mother would have the emotional support knowing that the child will be not only accepted in the class room but integrated.

5.     It is the mothers that require the most support and counseling. It is an extremely high emotional state for the mother to work on educating an autistic child as the mother has the constant fear of ‘what if I am not there?’ when autistic children are understood by their immediate community of friends, relatives and teachers it becomes easier for the mother and family.

6.     Mothers would also understand not to have too many performance based expectations from their child and would not enter into irrelevant comparisons.

7.     The other children in the classroom would also undergo counseling to help them understand why the child is behaving in that particular manner and how to support the child as friends. This would help them grow up to be citizens of tomorrow who accept differences in the larger society.

8.     The other children would also need therapy in many cases as they too undergo depression, disconnect and worry about the child.

It is truly time to push for a change in the teacher training programs to include education about inclusion but till that happens it is time schools trained teachers as part of their in-service training.

It’s time to have assorted chairs in the classroom and to have the grey view on inclusion, let’s stop the black and white.

Dedicated to all parents of autistic kids, you are doing a great job, it is because of you all (and a special one that I know) that these kids are not the forgotten children.



Bhavna Dwivedi said...

In this article it was enlightening to read that there is a grey(integration) path too that can be adopted. I have heard great reviews about the book 'Nobody Nowhere' which is an autobiography of an autistic girl, throughout her childhood she was labelled as retarded, slow, deaf but nobody knew that she was autistic it's only when she became an adult that this fact came to the forefront. Times are changing now and parents, teachers are more sensitive and aware of such issues around them and are able to give timely and appropriate help .I would like to end by re-emphasizing on the quote from this valuable article-"It’s time to have assorted chairs in the classroom and to have the grey view on inclusion, let’s stop the black and white".

vaishali joshi said...

Ma'am, a Venn diagram of black and white which will give us gray, what a lovely thought, Yes, teacher need to know more about autism and how to handle a autistic child. First parents’ needs a kind of counseling to accept the fact that child is an autistic child. They try to hide it and create more problems for child to adjust in society. If parent will take it as God Gift, a positive way comes up for upbringing of that child. We welcome them to our classes with the gray view. I’ve personally seen the dedication of an autistic child for her work. Just we need to change our fleeting look for them…thanks ma'am for a informative article. Vaishali Joshi.

jayshree shah said...

In your article about autism very few people are aware about grey path and this will help each one of us to understand how we can take care and treat autism child.

Snehal Pjk said...

As I don’t personally know anyone who is autistic, this was a fascinating read for me. I had wondered what was different. This article gave me some definite ideas. I have never been around autistic children. I believe that all children are special no matter the disability. Thanks for sharing Snehal Narvekar

shilpa ghare said...

Really said, thanks for the article i observed some parents hide this autism and these kids are not brought in society this article will really change their view also get aware of grey path we will share this article.
Shilpa Ghare

Jumbo Kids Solapur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kamakshi Iyer said...

I really thank you ma'am for sharing this article. After reading i came to know that every child is a special child and teacher need to know more about autism and how to handle a autistic child with love and care.

Snehal N said...

Vijayshree Mokashi said..
Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. There is no medical detection or cure for autism. Thanks Madam, grey path will help each one of us to understand that how we can take care and treat autism child.

Veena Sangli said...

It is really true,the grey path is the ideal path.The parents, teachers and everyone of us can bring bout change and awareness while looking towards or taking care and treating the autism child.

anokhi shah said...

Ma'am, this article was an enriching read as it not only explained the concept of grey path but also the manner in which it could be properly implemented. But sadly, not many people at large know about the concept of grey path and the wonders it could do to the education of an autistic child. As teachers, we should create awareness regarding the grey path which could lead to a healthy and bright future of these autistic children.

Manju Joshi said...

Being in Education field most of know Autism as a complex developmental disability. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills. General education teachers have differing views about the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. An independent sample t-test was used to compare the mean scores of the data in addition to a descriptive statistics method to examine the ranges of the two groups. Results suggest that the presence of typical characteristics of the two disabilities influence teachers’ willingness to have the populations in their classrooms. So rightly and chosen path after doing counseling to Mothers and kids, training teachers Grey method of Blog will empower the right of each child. Also tool of assessing also should be different so that we do not end up comparison.