A great deal has been learned about autism and childhood developmental disorders since the 1960s. No longer is the teaching of children with developmental disorders nebulous or a matter of guesswork,. The special education field has become better delineated, and its goals have been clarified. Teaching materials and techniques are constantly improving and expanding.In the 1960s, teachers had to teach children with autism with intuition and often with handmade materials (Cohen & Volkmar, 1997). Teachers now have textbooks and workbooks especially geared for students with developmental disabilities and autism, as well as other teaching aids such as computers, cassettes, television, videocassette recorders, and copying machines. A generation of teachers has developed and refined teaching approaches such as behavior modification, signing, inclusion, prevocational and vocational training, special physical education and special techniques for music, art, and recreation. Special educators have been joined by occupational therapists, physical therapists, music and dance therapists, and specialists in other disciplines. They all work together in addressing the difficult task of communicating with, enhancing the general learning potential of, and otherwise solving or alleviating developmental problems of children and youth with autism.The college student who today contemplates teaching children with autism has a good chance of making a realistic decision. A variety of classes and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities can be observed in private schools, public school general and special education programs, state sponsored service centers, and early intervention programs. From these observations, the aspiring future teacher can decide whether she or he has the capabilities and personality traits needed to be a successful teacher of individuals with autism.All the progress made in the past 25 years has still not made teaching an easy job. Anyone starting off on a career of teaching individuals with autism or other disabilities often feels lost, not knowing which way to turn, where to go, or what to do. Physical endurance, emotional stability, flexibility, ability and willingness to improvise, and respect for the value of one's own intuition are all needed to work with children who have developmental disabilities. Various methods of research, new interventions and treatments are becoming available. These methods will ultimately have an impact on teachers and teaching methods. Even now, they are raising questions and beginning to bring about change. The basic necessary approach to teaching, however, has not changed: each child's strengths must be analyzed and used.Children with autism present unique and challenging qualities for instruction. Hardman et al. (2000) summarized it well when they stated: “These students need creative and innovative teachers with positive attitudes” (p. 269). Preparing an increasing supply of well trained professionals to serve the needs of students with autism is, by any standard, a daunting challenge.
Mehring, T.A. and Dow, M.J. (2001), "Preparing future teachers for students with autistic spectrum disorders", Wahlberg, T., Obiakor, F., Burkhardt, S. and Rotatori, A.F. (Ed.) Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Educational and Clinical Interventions (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 69-88. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0270-4013(01)80008-8Download as .RIS
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