Socialization Development of Autistic Children in Public School Settings

With the advance in spectrum disorders, many public schools systems across the United States have begun to develop programs that are uniquely designed for at-risk children. For children with Autism Spectrum disorders, the complications of socialization are often a key focus of the school district’s program.

If you are the parent of a child who lives with an Autism Spectrum disorder, you may well understand the complications and dynamics associated with your child’s interests and social skills. While the complication of Autism Spectrum disorder developed early in your child’s life, the progression of the disorder, into grade school, often complicates the ability to develop peer relationships and, ultimately, perform academically.

When your autistic child enters grade school, it is important that you begin to develop relationship with the school teachers and officials. In many public school systems today, there are special education programs that are designed specifically for this demographic of children, with focus on socialization and unique academic structure. Using IEP, Individual Education Programs, your child’s progress through grade school is managed more closely and requires a more collaborative approach.

Unfortunately, in many school districts, children with Autism Spectrum disorders are not readily recognized at the onset. Therefore, if you already know that your child has been diagnosed with this developmental complication, it is important to let the school officials know from the first day your child starts school. In doing so, the school can begin, at an early age, to develop the IEP. While it is unfortunate, many parents of children with AS will defer telling the school of their child’s AS diagnosis in hopes the child will adapt to the normal curriculum. However, by doing this, you may be depriving your child of key opportunities in education and in peer relationship development.

Autism has become a condition of greater focus within the school systems. While there is still much to be learned about autism and Autism Spectrum disorder, we do know that children with this condition often require more unique approaches to education. As a parent, it is important to not deprive your child of academic success and in working with the school officials you can ensure, to some extent, your child is given the best possible opportunities for success. Creating the IEP, communicating with teachers on a regular basis, and assisting your child in home study will be an integral part of your child’s education when living with autism and Austim Spectrum disorder.

Begin Disciplining Your Children Early in Their Development

Have you ever heard that remark about how children just aren’t the way they used to be? It’s a fact that things that change and every generation faces new obstacles, like disciplining our children. We all know that different children require different forms of discipline and all children need to know their boundaries. Parents however aren’t mind readers and that’s where the hard work begins.

If parents begin to discipline their children early, it will be much easier to enforce rules later on. Toddlers are busy bodies, into everything and they absorb everything in their environment like a sponge. This is a critical learning stage for children as well as a prime time to enforce age appropiate discipline. Age appropriate discipline is ultimately up to the parents and this is where some of the mind reading comes in. Evaluate your child and determine what your child understands. It’s very important for a young child to understand the method of punishment, why they are being punished and how long it will last.

Some parents designate places in their homes specifically for punishment purposes. One form of punishment for young toddlers referred to as “time out” is when the child is made to remain in an area for a specific time. Perhaps sitting in a chair, a corner of the room or a particular rug in the room. The child learns that the item whatever it may be, is used for time out.

Another form of punishment called “the corner” is age appropriate for older children between the ages of three to eight years old. As with time out usually there is a designated corner for younger children but as they get older about five or six years old, any corner will work. A common time limit for both time out and the corner is usually about five minutes. If after the child has been punished, the persists with bad behavior then be consistent and send them back to the chosen form of punishment. Each time add an extra minute. The maximum for three to four year olds should be no more than ten minutes and twenty for older children.

Remember, no matter what form of punishment a parent uses it’s utterly important for the child to understand why they are being punished. Hug the child after punishments, tell them that they are loved and explain their actions to them. Remember each time you discipline your child that they are learning from your example so stay calm and focus on teaching your child what you need them to know. If they know what they have done, understand the consequences of their actions then they are less likely to do it again.

Don’t get ahead of your child, keep age appropriate in mind when you set boundaries or develop punishment. We all learn from our successes and our failures, children are no different. Talk to your child and keep a good line of communication open for them as they grow.

There are many resources available for parents who wish to learn ways to teach their children. It’s always a good idea to check with your local library, early childhood education center, elementary school, hospital or any state agencies for families. Some communities even offer parenting classes at a low cost and sometimes for free. If there’s nothing available in your area then don’t forget that the internet as well is a valuable source of information.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Children!

On December 30, 2008, the Denton Record Chronicle Police Blotter reported that a baby was found strapped into a car seat in the middle of a busy intersection.

A woman reported to police that she was driving on Audra Lane (the main road that runs near our neighborhood) around 7:30 p.m. when she seen something blocking the intersection. Upon further inspection, she realized that the “something” was actually an infant car seat. She stopped to move the car seat and was stunned to find a 3-4 month old baby boy strapped in.

Before she had a chance to call police, a vehicle pulled up, a woman exited the car and began yelling at her to hand over the baby. Of course, being startled, the woman handed over the baby and watched as the vehicle sped away.

Questions abound and concerns are many that this poor child may show up again in the news due to some future neglect or abuse, but hopefully this was a lesson learned by the mother or caregiver responsible for somehow losing her infant in the middle of an intersection.

According to the Denton Record Chronicle Police Blotter, Monday, December 8, 2008 a driver called the Denton police department after seeing two small children walking along I-35 without any coats on a chilly Saturday morning. A 7 year old boy told police that he could not find his mother when he woke up and decided to go to his grandmother’s house. The 7 year old boy packed a diaper bag for his 1 year old brother and set out to find grandma about 9:30 am. Child Protective Services were called to take the children into care and the mother was nowhere to be found.

In July of 2008 State officials closed a day care center in Denton after a 5 year old boy found his way out of the center and walked across a very busy parking lot, a busy street with a dangerous intersection, bought a coke at a gas station, and was found in the Hooter’s Parking lot right off I-35. Thankfully he was unharmed, but the outcome could have been tragic.

These three very recent stories should be a warning for all parents, caregivers, and the public. Children should not be left to wander the streets and if you see something that doesn’t seem quiet right, it probably isn’t. If no one had stopped to help these children when they did, they could have been severely hurt, if not killed.

Research shows that young children age three and younger are the most frequent victims of fatalities. Due to their vulnerability, dependency, and inability to defend themselves, according to www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/fatality.cfm

Most children will attempt to open a door and run outside, but as an adult, parent, and caregiver, it is your responsibility to keep these types of things from happening.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call:

The Child Abuse Hotline

In Texas Call 1-800-252-5400

National Hot Line 1-800-4ACHILD

or call your local police department