Autism does not end at age 5….neither should intervention.
Preschool children with autism have the opportunity to receive intensive intervention in New Brunswick, Canada. This funding provided by the government is amazing and we are so grateful to have this here! I am sure a host of parents can attest to their child’s improvements because this intervention is available. Children, who originally had minimal communication and social interaction, have said their first words and embraced peers in play interactions!
Parents, of course, have the expectation that their child will continue to make improvements as time progresses. However, once a child enters school, intensive intervention is discontinued and replaced by an academic curriculum.
The child with autism may do well within the early primary grades. Preschool intervention may positively impact the child’s core difficulties and allow them to function well initially. However, as time passes, the child’s areas of difficulty are no longer being targeted through intervention and it is at this point that we start to see challenges emerge.
Neuro-typical children’s social understanding continues to develop incidentally. However, given the absence of direct intervention, a gap may begin to develop for children with ASD. There are many research studies that have demonstrated that explicit intervention is required for the continued development of social understanding for children with ASD.
In some cases, this gap reveals itself in disruptive behaviours. Due to disruptive behaviours, the child with autism is sent home with possible reduced school hours. A tutor may or may not be provided, but the underlying challenges that a child with ASD demonstrates are not directly targeted through intervention. The child returns to school, only to be sent home again, and the cycle continues. The expectation that the child’s behaviour could be different upon returning to school, is contingent on the child receiving intervention that targets the areas responsible for his/her disruptive behaviour.
Often children with ASD do well academically. However, it is the child’s social misunderstandings and difficulties that can contribute to depression, disruptive behaviours and other internalizing or externalizing behaviours.
We need to make changes in order to give our kiddos with ASD the best possible opportunity to succeed! It is so easy to place blame on inclusive education but that is not the purpose here. Inclusive education is an amazing concept and we have put it into practice and are now seeing the areas where changes need to occur. Let’s collaborate as a team and create the change so that all children have an equal opportunity to succeed in an inclusive environment!
Each child is entitled to an education that supports their full inclusion into our community and society. Let’s make it happen!