Minggu, 08 Januari 2012

Let's Get That Autism Research Psychologist Into My Classroom For a Month and We'll See Then

The other day, I was at Starbucks and I was talking to a special ed teacher who had several autistic kids and down syndrome kids in her classroom. She was working to up her certification and therefore guarantee that you won't be laid off from the school district she works at, which has laid off thousands of people already. She was reading a very interesting book that was part of her course studies, and she reiterated to me that she was perplexed by some of the research papers she had read from clinical psychologist researchers about autism and autistic behavior in a classroom setting. Okay so let's talk.

She said that she wishes that these clinical psychologists that do all these reports and research, while publishing in their journals would come into her classroom for a couple of weeks to actually look at the autistic kids, and see how well their research is doing in reality. Apparently there's a huge disconnect, and part of the problem she admitted was the fact that the autistic spectrum was so large now that they were grouping all sorts of kids into the same categories, which really made no sense at all.

Whereas, autism is primarily a brain structural issue, which can lead to all sorts of different attributes and behaviors, each child is different, and grouping them all together or trying to explain that kids that do one thing are a certain way, are sure to do another, simply isn't so, and she can prove it in a real-life classroom setting with real observations each and every day working with these kids. The research papers don't seem to be able to do that, and often they are flat wrong.

Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time that someone has told me this, and I did speak with a researcher from the University of Riverside at the Palm Desert campus who explained to me that what they were doing now was taking each individual, giving them individual tests, and trying to place them within four quadrants to get an idea of how best to teach them, deal with any learning disabilities they had, and design a curriculum which would work for their particular brain.

That to me makes a lot more sense, although I must admit it is a lot more work, and right now with the schools in severe financial hardship, I'm not sure who's paying for it, but that would be the right way to play it. Please consider all this and think on it.

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