The purpose of this essay is to analyse Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); specifically, children that have being diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (high IQ), what challenges they have to face, such as school, teachers and their skills, bulling, depression and anxiety; briefly discuss the reason why this disorder has been increasing in Australia; the integration of these people to the labour life and which responsibilities are with these children as a society. The word autism is from Greek word ‘autos’ that means ‘self’.
Autism was first diagnosed by psychiatrist Dr Kranner in 1943, ADS is definite as “A neurological (brain) disorder which disrupts normal child development in the first few years of life, but sometimes diagnosis cannot be done until few years later”, (O’Reilly & Wicks p. 3); Where the main areas of difficulties are social interaction and communication with others, they can also have learning difficulties, anxiety and depression, speech and language difficulties among others. There are five types of autism: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Disorder and Rett’s Disorder; where we can identify individual with high-functioning (high IQ) and low-functioning (low IQ)”. (O’Reilly & Wicks pp 9 & 10). The statistics Department of Australia declares that, “In 2012 SDAC showed an estimated 115,400 Australians (0. 5%) had autism. This was an 79% increase on the 64,400 people estimated to have the condition in 2009”.
That means that, the syndrome has an effect on 1 in 100 people. According with DR Greg Rowell from the Sydney Children’s Hospital, “he sees a new case of autism in a pre-schooler under the age of three once every week or two” (ABC radio broadcast “autism cases on the raise in Australia” 2015). For some scientists the possibilities can be many, there is not just one disorder but is a group of disorders and causes such as immune system, brain structure and function, genetics, blood protein and environmental exposures.
The main one that has been focus on vaccination (MMR); (Although there has not yet been any relationship between the vaccine and autism); complication in the pregnancy period, bad parenting, etc. However, the causes can be different from child to child. The environmental exposure has been studied by scientist in past years, they are considering that the use of pesticides can be considered as the major cause. (O’Reilly & Wicks pp35 to 43).
Because, it has not yet been possible to establish the grounds for ASD, is that why Autism CRC has taken the initiative in creating the first Biobank in Australia, its main focus will be the creation of an “accurate diagnostic protocol” by collected data from families that has a member with autism. This project will involve children between 2 and 17 years of age, by collecting the sample of their DNA and send them to the ABB Wesley Medical Research Tissue Bank in New Lambton Heights (NSW).
At the moment there are four Australian Universities participating in this project. (Autism CRC, Creation of the First Australian Autism Biobank Report). “The main challenge that a child with High Functioning Autism is facing is schooling. The school is the greatest creator of anxiety and depression” (Autism, Anxiety and school functioning), (Autism CRC), since these children do not feel comfortable with the changes, they need always a routine, in the case of one teacher is replaced by another, this can cause a lot of anxiety in a child with ASD.
One of the major problems for the school community is that, these children look like any other one, so their peers do not notes anything unusual in them, until they start changing their behavior unexpected, for example: stopping communicating with their classmates, they become more concentrate in one thing in particular (Interests that only draws attention to them); get better in some subjects and poor academic in others, misunderstandings that lead to be isolated from the rest of their peers, which can trig to bullying and that can carry to mental health issue.
Some teachers begin to be astonished as they notice changes in the child’s behavior suddenly; which sometimes they do not know how to react or they don’t know how to deal with it, due lack of training; this causes absenteeism and suspensions. (O’Reilly & Wicks pp168 to 194). High Functioning Autism for a child is only detected between 12 and 14 years of age, not so for children with Asperger’s syndrome who can be diagnosed at 4 years of age. Autism CRC p11).
The school or the access to the education is one of the primordial rights of each individual of this society, this is a very important step for this children with ASD, it is essential that the they succeed at school; because a good foundation and academic support means that these children feel much more confident in their specific abilities and this leads to a definite success in life. Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis)(Autism CRC). Schools need to be Autism friendly, not only the teachers need to be training but also the school community, such as, parents, students, drivers of school buses, school’s helpers (such as canteen’s mums), police and everybody that has a connection with autism. They need to know how to react when one of this children has a break down or just they do not want to be there, for example.
Therefore, is important to be training, to be aware, to know, to understand the challenges that these children are facing day by day. This is not only schools and family responsibility, but also government involvement, helping school financially, informing the community about this syndrome and creating new places where these young people can be realized as individuals. (Cooperative Research Center for living with autism report) The second main difficulty that a ASD child has to face are teachers at school.
In 2015 Autism CRC have done a survey that was published in 2016, about education in Australia, in this study where involved four group of people, in those groups where ask specific questions about learning, school approach, teachers, technology and how they think that education can be improved. This questions were done to parents with children between 5-18 years old, students age 11-18, specialties, educators which all of them are connected with ASD one way or another.
The survey reviled that one of the main problems where the lack of financial support for the training of the teachers among others such as, lack of time to do the training and lack of specialist support. Until now, the contribution of a teacher to these children has never been consider before; therefore, these children or better said their parents should seek help in different institutions or specific schools where their teachers have the training and knowledge of how to treat these children, as they require a special approach to deal with different topics.
That is why communication between parents and teachers is so important, and the collaboration of principals and school’s administrators to allow teachers to take some school time to fulfill or perform the training or seminars available to them. Support and help them financially; because until now, teachers have to financially cover their own training and seminars. With more teachers and specialists in the field, these children have all the possibility of successfulness, being more proactive, with the specific training the school environment can play a big difference in the intellectual and confident development of each individual.
Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis). The other problem is “Anxiety influence three key areas: physiological (anxiety in our body’s), cognitive (anxious thinking) and behavior (mostly avoidance)”. (O’Reilly & Wicks p188). Therefore, anxiety is one of the major problems to face at school for these children, dealing with school work is not easy as it seems; Planning for assessment, working as part of a group, doing homework, staying calm when other annoying them and specially staying calm when the classroom is very noise. (Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism).
Bulling is part of this major issue to these children, specially in high school, when ASD children start to change their behavior, people around them do not know how to react to these changes, and the better way that teenager deal with this is annoying, teasing and make fun of this person, teenagers do not stop and think before they just act and they not considered that what they are doing is wrong. This type of behavior lead to another more serious mental issue that is Depression.
Depression affect directly children with high functioning, because they are more aware about their surroundings and their difference between others. O’Reilly & Wicks pp184 to 189). Deal with this issues at the right time is very important, same of this children will be required medications, others to be change from school to another friendlier environmental, sometime anxiety can be manager very easily, like do not pay much attention to some non-brave behaviors, restructuring homework, encouraging to go step by step from easy to difficult or vice versa, help them to relax, teach them do not pay attention to others bad behaviors. ((O’Reilly & Wicks pp188 to 190).