Autism: Educational Social Effects
As a student living with no impairing physical or mental disability, it is difficult to imagine life any other way. On the other hand, when taking the time to contemplate what people with disabilities, such as Autism have to cope with, I realize just how much I take for granted in every day life; such as options to any class, learning at a normal pace, and peer interactions, to name a few. Autism not only affects people physically, but socially as well, ensuing subordinate self esteem, meager social skills, and poor peer relationships, aspects of maturing which are crucial to proper development.
A child with disabilities is presented with two options when beginning school. The first is called integration, or to be incorporated into a classroom of students without disabilities, and the second option is to be isolated into a classroom with students working with disabilities.
Even though each option is said to have its positive and negative sides, a recent study conducted by Donna Kam Pun Wong, a professor and social worker, proves that integration hurts children, rather than helps them socially (Wong 3). Many parents of autistic children voiced their apprehension concerning inclusion, and the social effects it had on their children. The parents felt it made their children feel self-conscious because of the extra attention they required from the teacher, noticeably thieving the teacher’s attention from the rest of the class (Wong 3). The parents dreaded the resentment the average child would naturally feel when forced to acclimatize to this obviously different student. Many parents even felt inclusion was a violation of their rights to be thoroughly involved in the planning and decisions of their child’s education process (Wong 3). But what do the children think?
A case study was conducted by Brenda Myles and Richard Simpson on the behavior and interaction of children with Autism when integrated with children of normal learning abilities.
They integrated four children into an all autistic classroom, and monitored behaviors such as asking questions, requesting help, social interactions, aggression, complaining, and frustration (Myles, Simpson 5). The results were clear. When given the opportunity, Autistic children socially interacted with others 54% of the time when normally developed children were present as opposed to 71% of the time when it was just the Autistic children, they were obviously intimidated (Myles, Simpson 5). There was also 21% more assistance provided to the children with Autism when their peers were in the room, as well as a higher rate of complaining, aggression, and frustration (Myles, Simpson 5). One has to wonder the effects this will have after years of integration. Merely because of their disease, there is no way for them to normally interact with their non-disabled peers in a school related environment without feeling higher levels of agitation, frustration, and intimidation.
Being a teenager and looking physically different can be a hard thing to cope with. Acceptance tends to rely so heavily on style, body image, etc. For children suffering from Autism, these are unreasonable and unreachable expectations for them. Ergo, because of their physical and mental differences, many of them, as explained by Rosa Ana Clemente Estevan, are subjected to peer rejection. She explains that peer rejected children, especially Autistic children can have characteristics including, “aggression, social withdrawal, and lack of prosocial abilities” (Estevan 2). She also explains that all of this goes hand in hand with theory of mind.
Theory of mind refers to developmental accomplishment which enables us to recognize that not everyone views the world the same as we do. Since understanding theory of mind is important in social interactions, Estevan urges us to look at it from a socio cultural point of view. This makes us look at it from a social process perspective, showing that children do not gain theory of mind alone, but rather with leadership, and contact with their peers (Estevan 2). So, if they are rejected by their peers because of their differences, they never grasp a proper theory of mind, making them even less socially fit and desirable. Because many Autistic children are rejected by their able minded peers, they do not acquire appropriate social interactions with their peers, leaving their .