Sensory Disorders and Early Childhood Education – Autism

Special Education for Children with Autism

Describe how Autism affects the following:

Social Interactions

Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a health condition that presents broad challenges characterized by problems with speech, non-verbal communication, problems developing positive social skills, and repetitive behaviors.  According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) website, 1 in 54 children has been identified ASD (CDC, n.d). The prevalence for boys is even worse – about 1 in 42 boys in America have autism (Scientific American, 2017).   “Research suggests that impaired social skills are often the most significant challenge for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” (Laugeson et al., 2015).  Early social problems of autism include problems establishing and maintaining relationships, making social connections, responding to social interactions and communicating with others in a relationship. As Hallahan et al. (2015) write, children with ASD have increased chances of failing to perceive the emotional state of others, problems forming attachments and even expressing emotions. For example, a child with autism disorder might not invite others to their world of play – and they would likely concentrate on the objects without recognizing the presence of others or the caregivers. Many caregivers would report that their children are not interested in cuddling. Children with ASD would not recognize the presence of others – and would rarely use social gestures like waving or returning a smile. The inability to distinguish and interpret one’s own and other people’s thoughts, motives, and beliefs can also present at an early age. These social problems can be attributed to a child’s mental state. Also, it would be typical for people with autism to talk incessantly about the topics that others might not be interested in. Social and communication skills that might display at an early age might be problems with joint attention. In any case, children with autism would face challenges in learning and observing environments.

Communication and Language

In addition to not being good at making friends, children with autism disorder face language and communication challenges. “Most children with autism lack communicative intent, or the desire to communicate for social purposes” (Hallahan, 2015, p.287). The majority of them are likely to mute. The language development of children with ASD is likely to be characterized by intonation problems. The content of their oral language might also be lacking. For example, the children might reverse pronouns, or exhibit echolalia. For example, a child with speech development problems might repeat throughout the day any phrase they might have heard. The speech and social problems can be attributed to deficits in joint attention. However, some might have impressive vocabularies, although they might not know how to use it.

Behavior Patterns

Children with ASD are socially distant from their environment; this has a direct impact on their behavioral development. People with autism display stereotyped verbal behaviors, spinning objects, repetitiveness, and flapping hands. Autism is also characterized by preoccupation with restricted range of objects. They are likely to get upset if the routine or the environment is changed. People with autism have extreme difficulty with change in the order of doing things, and so they would appreciate preservation of sameness. Also, a child with autism might spend a significant amount of time sharing at objects like lights and spinning balls.

Response to Sensory Stimuli

Individuals with autism have an unusual response to sensory stimuli. They might either over-respond or under respond to sensory stimulation. Individual’s with autism reaction to certain stimuli might fluctuate from day to day. Overresponsive individuals have problems being touched, or might respond adversely to foods with certain tastes (Hallahan et al., 2015). Under responsive children might stay calm even when they are exposed to stimuli which most peers would react to. It is also possible for a person with autism to display both under responsiveness and over responsiveness. Adverse cases of this condition might result in children not reacting to pain stimuli – since the individual might not feel pain in a normal way. Synaesthesia is described as a condition where one cognitive system results in the stimulation of another cognitive system.

Intellectual Functioning

The intellectual functioning of individuals with autism is impaired – which makes it difficult for them to fit to their normal environment.  Most of them would act in a manner that it might be thought that they are intellectually disabled. Hallahan (2015), states that thirty-one percent of children with ASD meet the criteria for intellectual disability. Most of them cannot regulate their behaviors that need flexibility, inhibition, working memory and selective attention. People with autism have peculiar processing problems. Most of them would display difficulty in coding and categorization of information. Children with autism have problems comprehending concepts and might remember things by their location. For example, when the word play is mentioned to a child with autism, he or she might think about going to a specific location, or perhaps playing with objects he or she used to. It is also necessary to note that there are autistic savants- individuals with autism who display extraordinary skills. Autistic savants show delayed development but are also likely to display amazing talents in some skills.