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On the last track we discussed Echolalia. This included why autistic children echo, teaching "I don’t understand," rewording the question, adding questions, giving choices and repetition for its own sake.
On this track, we will discuss the inclusion of autistic children in a typical school setting to help them socialize. Have you ever worked with a family whose autistic child was being mainstreamed into the public school system? Have you ever had to testify in court on the child’s behalf? As you listen to Dr. Lynn Koegel’s account of a court case, from her book, Overcoming Autism, think about how you might respond if called to testify for an autistic child in a similar court case. Dr. Koegel wrote:
The first, and most fundamental obstacle, is that education is an evolving science, and inclusion is a relatively new process. As you are aware, the autistic child is entitled by law to participate in the "least restrictive environment," some schools do not even have a fully developed inclusive program. Track 10 will provide you with some specific information I provided the school to facilitate their inclusion of an autistic child into the classroom.
Dr. Koegel worked with a preschool child...from a small community in southern California whose parents elected to enroll him in their local preschool where his sister went. They contacted the director of special education to request an aide for six hours a week to help him with communication and socialization.
The testimony of the fair hearing trial gives you a pretty good sense of how unwilling the school was to give the family what they were asking for. Dr. Koegel’s account of her testimony was as follows:
The school’s attorney asked, "Lynn, have you ever worked in the public schools?"
According to Dr. Koegel, this type of questioning went on and on for hours, but several months later the ruling came. The family won everything. Not only did they get the aide in the regular preschool, but the judge ordered that the entire tuition be paid by the school, which was something that the family hadn’t even asked for, and that the school reimburse the family for all past expenses including the previous year’s tuition and aide time. Dr. Koegel and the family had won, but it took a lot of time and effort to fight that battle. It may seem like this scenario was from the dark ages, but it wasn’t.
While schools are becoming more aware of the need for inclusive programs, the public education system is still in a transition period from a time when no children with autism were included in any public education program. Unfortunately, moving forward takes time.
On this track, we discussed the difficulties surrounding inclusion of autistic children in a typical school setting. Dr. Koegel was called on to vouch for an autistic child being mainstreamed into a regular classroom.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
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