Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Children with autism integrating into regular classrooms more often

From KESQ-TV in Palm Springs, California:

An increasing amount of autistic students are leaving special education classes and integrating into mainstream classrooms. It's something that many schools here in the Valley are experiencing.

Doctors are becoming more familiar with the signs of autism. Now, true cases of the disorder are on the rise. With this deeper understanding, many students are slowly moving out of specialized classes toward mainstream learning.

"In the past we had children undiagnosed in general education, coping or diagnosed incorrectly without the support needed," says Palm Springs Unified Schools District's Autism Specialist Sally Talala.

Entering into a traditional classroom isn't for every child with autism. Specialists say it takes a team approach to find out what is best for each individual.

The assistance team is growing. Parents, schools and specialists work together to place each child in the right class for their specific needs. They take a look at social skills, communication and behavior, integrating those with more mild cases.

"We have seen tremendous growth with children in general education if we are picking the right students," says Talala.

Fifth grade teacher Kathy Ackley has seen many success stories when teaching autistic students. She says adapting to their needs is similar to adapting to a child struggling with reading or writing.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to realize that we are all different we all have strength and we all have weaknesses," says Ackley.

Ackley says with any student, the main goal is giving them the tools and attention to thrive.

"The kids need to be successful in a classroom and need to be successful in our world," says Ackley.