First, is to define ADHD and Autism: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that tampers with major parts of the brain that is related the control of a person's attention, activity and emotions which make them appear hyper or weird. ADHD can also be considered as the poor functioning and poor communication between different areas of the brain. Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that appears during the first three years of life which interferes with the ability of a person to communicate and socialize with others. Its in relation to routines and repetition of behaviors which range from mild to severe. It doesn't mean that autism is a damage or disease.
The symptoms of ADHD will show if the section of the brain that controls hyperactivity, impulsiveness and attention are not fully developed or not coordinating well with the rest of the brain and therefore it is not that the child is not able to control his behavior. Autism is not purely a genetic disorder which cannot be treated but certain reactions on the genes can be influenced by environmental factors which may be from a toxin such as mercury or lead, prenatal and postnatal stress, delays in motor development such as crawling and walking among others. Autism is treatable as the important part that should be understood is, if the reactions can be flipped on, they can be as well be flipped off.
Secondly, ADHD and Autism affect children and the signs and symptoms expose themselves in many different forms. The three major areas which most of the symptoms are categorized in are; in attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It becomes clinical when the impulsiveness and hyperactivity go beyond the social norms. The child may have difficulty in paying attention, may be fidgety, gets easily distracted, may not be able to sit still, may have difficulty in doing homework, chores around the house, or may be disorganized.
Other signs of ADHD are shown when the child gets so disruptive or fidgety in class that interferes with the teacher as she tries to teach the other students, the student blurt out answers in class, the student find sit hard to wait for his turn in the line, the child also becomes so hyperactive that he cannot sit through a session for instance, the church service or watching a movie. With autism the three core areas that are involved or show the signs of the disorder include; social-not socially interacting with the environment and just being by themselves, communication which is manifested by the age of three when there is delayed speech, and repetitive movements or limited interest.
There are various facts about Autism and ADHD:
On ADHD, it affects between 5 to 10% of the school going children and affects more boys than girls about 3 to 4 times more, another fact is that 50 to 60 % of the children will continue to experience the symptoms throughout to adulthood, the ones which need pediatric prescriptions are about 78%, more prescriptions are written for ADHD than for any other childhood condition and over 20 million prescriptions for ADHD related drugs are written annually.
On Autism; 1 in every 150 children are diagnosed with autism while 1 in every 94 boys is on the autism spectrum. Per day, 67 children are diagnosed and a new case is reported every 20 minutes. In comparison to AIDS, diabetes, & cancer, more children will be diagnosed with autism this shows that it is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. boys are expected to have autism four times more. There is no cure nor medical detection for autism.
Since ADHD and Autism affect the school going children, and they spend at least eight hours everyday in school, the teachers and students are more likely to observe the change in behaviors in the students and hence a big impact will be felt within the school and its environment. This document will look at the impacts of autism on pupil, on other pupils, on teachers and on the whole school.
IMPACT OF AUTISM ON PUPIL
Children with severe speech difficulties finding it difficult to communicate may become very frustrated. They may be reluctant to communicate or may refuse to do so at all. If required to communicate, they may show signs of intense stress or anxiety. The child may have low self esteem and may feel rejected by peers (and may in fact be rejected by some). In such circumstances, it may become difficult to recognize that.
Without support, the child may develop behavioral, emotional and social difficulties. This appears to be supported by evidence of communication problems among population such as children in care and pupils in school. Because of their dependence on structure, major problems can arise for children with autism outside lesson times. Although breaks from lessons are designed to provide normal children with the opportunities they need to relax and to interact with their peers, for a child with autism such period can be extremely stressful, children who are able to behave quite acceptably when involved in guided and structured activities frequently appear much more 'odd' or unusual at times of free play.
Stereotyped and ritualistic behaviors may become more apparent and exposure to teasing or bullying is much more of a risk, especially because staff supervision at such times is greatly reduced. Break times are designed to reduce the pressure from the children not increase and therefore by allowing the children with autism to go for the break will just increase the amount of pressure in them thus it would be good if they are not allowed to go but instead relax in class by themselves without any disturbance.
School meals can be another source of difficulty and it is clear from personal accounts that having to tolerate the noise and smells of meals in a crowded school canteen can be almost akin to torture for individuals with autism. Been forced into close proximity with other students, or made to eat food of particular textures or mixed together on the plate (many individuals cannot bear separate items of food touching each other) can be extremely stressful.
Clare Sainsbury writes: (the potential of making mistakes (and the anxiety caused by fear of making mistakes) is enormous. One of my most vivid memories of secondary schools is been hauled out of the lunch queue by one of the dinner ladies shouting angrily, and made to stand to one side; she refused to tell me why. Only after I had burst into tears was I allowed back....nobody ever explained what I had done wrong....and to this day I still have no idea.)
A quiet corner in which to eat, being allowed to eat slightly earlier or later than other pupils, or being permitted to bring sandwiches are among the simple solutions that can transform a nightmare into a practicable tolerant activity. If the principal problem is not knowing what to do, when the basic rules can be explained simply - and discreetly- beforehand. Games and PE lessons are also frequent causes of stress for pupils with autism, who may lack the motor coordination, the ability to follow rapid instructions or unwritten rules and the social reciprocity required in order to contribute to these activities in any useful way.
Competitive sports are a particular problem and are probably best avoided altogether, both for the sake of the person with autism and the rest of the class. However, physical fitness can be improved by encouraging activities that improve body awareness and coordination such as yoga, swimming, golf, walking or gymnastics if sensitively taught.
IMPACT OF AUTISM ON OTHER PUPILS
The impact of Autism on other pupils can be as a result of the reaction of the children affected by Autism (Autistics). Due to the hyperactivity, in them, the other pupils will develop fear in them as they will seem as a threat to them. For instance, if a child is the kind who throws things around when annoyed, will make his classmates scream, run away, there may be accidents in that a child can be hit by the furniture or the object thrown around.
Autistics are also known to be bright and understand things so fast, besides their self esteem was lowered by other students, they can also lower other pupils self esteem in academics especially. This is so because the weaker ones will be teased by them and feel threatened instead. In many cases, if the teacher does not realize this early enough, she may have ea tendency of rushing through the syllabus since of the assumption that if one or two pupils have understood what is been taught, the rest will learn from them.
For some children this lack of understanding may result in a refreshing acceptance of the child with autism for the person they are. However, some children may be fearful and this may result in ostracizing, bullying, or mocking the children with autism. These attitudes create a matrix of difficulties for the child with the disorder which exacerbates their already significant impairments in forming peer relationships.
IMPACT OF AUTISM ON TEACHERS
A teacher's attitude towards pupils with Autism is directly related to the knowledge and understanding of the condition. Consequently, there is a need to develop systems and means by which knowledge and understanding about Autism are share with other colleagues. Understandably, we are in competition with multitude of other demands on professionals and, therefore, need to promote information, in an accessible and manageable form which is tailored to the context they are working in. the depth of knowledge required might lie on a continuum from awareness to expertise by the role they perform.
Colleagues whose only contact with pupils with autism is during break times or assemblies will need a different level of understanding to those colleagues who may share the same teaching space. Similarly, these colleagues needs will differ again from the people primarily responsible for the teaching of youngsters with Autism. Responding to this continuum of professional development need, the training portfolio may include: Informal approaches, inset days, outreach, accredited courses, and resources.
Each of these depends upon practitioners within the field promoting the cause of pupils with the disorder in a positive and proactive manner.
IMPACT OF AUTISM OMN THE WHOLE SCHOOL
A major impact in the whole school would be loosing children due to parents transferring their children to other schools because of various reasons such bullying. There has been case from various schools of major bullying taking place within the school; educators and society are concerned about the violent attacks in the schools. It is imperative the establishment of proactive school-wide bullying prevention programs that address the needs of all children, including those with special needs.
Bullying is pervasive, in the schools and adults musty take the lead in creating a school ethos where bullying is neither valued nor accepted. Effective bullying prevention programs involve the entire school community and include steps at the school, class and individual level. Awareness and commitment from adults is a prerequisite to success, Key components of successful bullying prevention programs include, Increasing awareness and understanding Gathering information from teachers and students, Developing class rules, Having educational teacher discussions and class meetings with students, Increasing supervision in high risk areas
Applying formative consequences for bullies, Providing social skills training for targets and bullies, Involving the parents of students in bully/targets situations including bystanders.
It is essential that adaptations and modifications be integrated into bullying prevention programs as necessary to successfully meet the requirements of children with special needs. It is required by law to provide a safe learning environment for every child in the school community
ADHD and Autism are disorders that affect parts of the brain. They are not purely genetic and can be controlled. Measures should be taken to create a good environment for both the children that need special attention and the other children and also the school environment.
- Rebekah R. Heinrich, Vol.38, 2003Journal, Article By; Intervention In School & Clinic
- By Patricia Howlin, Educating pupils with autistic spectrum disorders: a practical guide Autism and Asperger Syndrome: preparing for adulthood
- By Michael Farrell, The effective teachers guide to autism and communication difficulties... ADHD: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults
- By Mark Selikowitz ADHD: The facts From http://www.manecenter.com/ADHD/htm