Disorder characterized by abnormal social interaction and communication.
Autistic children may:
- not make eye contact.
- be unaware of others’ feelings.
- talk idiosyncratically or not at all.
- show preoccupations with certain objects.
The cause of autism is not known and the condition is not curable, but early intervention and behavioral therapy often improve daily functioning.
In school. Students with autism may find it easier to understand short, simple directions. Some may communicate best using picture charts. Children with autism are likely to prefer structure and routines. Social skills are not intuitive to these children but often improve with instruction and practice.
Autism vs. Asperger’s. Asperger’s syndrome is considered to be on the autism spectrum, but it is a different condition. Children with Asperger’s syndrome have more advanced language skills and can often speak clearly and at length about subjects that interest them. Both children with Asperger’s and those with autism have serious difficulties with social interaction.
Examples and resources
DPI’s Exceptional Children Division publishes best practices in educating students with autism, accomodations for students with problems in organization, and pragmatic language and the Standard Course of Study.
Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides an array of resources about autism and Asperger’s syndrome. At this site, you will find a family reference guide to services for youth and young adults with autism, an autism primer in both English and Spanish, and several scholarly papers.
Division TEACCH also provides educational approaches such as inclusion ideas for students with autism, information about the learning styles of autistic students, teaching tips, and more.
For additional educational direction, the National Autistic Society provides information for education professionals with integration and teaching guidelines for teachers as well as schools who are helping children with autistic spectrum disorders.