Questions on Autism in Jakarta, Java

Questions on Autism in Jakarta, Java

There were 285 guests at the day long Autism Workshop in Jakarta. The participants were asked to list an important question they had before attending the workshop. Many were answered thorugh the presentation. Here are 7 additional questions.  They give you an idea where autism understanding & education is in Indonesia.

1)Can we use similar curriculum to teach children with autism & teach typical children?Yes, of course to those who have the cognitive ability to understand it but the way you teach the curriculum must be adjusted as well. Curriculum might need to be presented in more creative ways. No one learns well if they must sit all day, listen to someone speak and then answer questions on a piece of paper, or in choral style with everyone. It is important to find out the learning style of each student and adapt the way one teaches. Sometimes lessons need to be shortened. Sometimes using art, music, technology will help engage a student learn. It is important to check in with the student to see if they are understanding. Comprehension of words and their meanings are very, very important. Teachers may have to teach new vocabulary first, before a lesson.

The student with autism may need help organizing, starting and stopping the assignment. Transitions are hard.

Children with less language, less comprehension may need to curriculum simplified. Teachers can pick one theme from the lesson and focus on it with a student. Teachers can find the most meaningful piece of the lesson and offer that to the student. Teachers can have the families read with the student the night before so they have heard the material before. Using pictures is so important to ensure comprehension. Asking the student what they saw after they read something is very helpful.

Some students need a very functional based curriculum.

2)How long will it take for someone with ASD to integrate into society? I think society must accept differences. No two people are alike. Some are more social than others. We must help people with autism understand the social rules. We must teach each social rule and explain its purpose. Then we must help our students practice it. We must find the parts of society that they feel comfortable integrating into. Not everyone integrates in every part of society. A child’s ability to integrate will depend upon their communication level, their social skills, their sensory levels and their anxiety levels. Noise & crowds will influence integration. Interests will determine integration. We must help society to understand and accept these amazing children with autism. We must be patient. We must find ways to help them lead a life with purpose and happiness and safety.

3)How can we tell when a child is ready for school? Children are ready when the school is ready for them. Children with autism require early education. The sooner they are supported to learn the better. The teacher must understand them. The school site must accept them. The education and home must work together. Perhaps the child needs a half day at first to get use the environment, routine and expectations. Perhaps the child needs speech therapy and occupational therapy to begin prior or at the same time to support school access. Will the school accept someone who isn’t toilet trained? Will they accept a student who needs frequent breaks and an adjusted curriculum? 

4)How to decrease self-injurious behavior or hurting others?   It is very important to make sure the child is not ill in any way (stomach ache, headaches tooth aches). It is very important that a child have a communication system to express frustration, confusion, anxiety. It is very important that the environment be structured and predictable for the child. It is very important that the diet be considered and that the child is getting enough sleep at night. All above must be reduced first. It is always important to look at the activities or people that seem to cause the self-injurious behaviors. What happens right before? Are you taking something away? Are you placing too many demands on the child? Hurting oneself is an expression of frustration or it can be trying to get out of doing something that is non-preferred and each time they self-jury they get out of doing that task. They will then continue. They have learned that if they self-jury, it gets them what they want. We must always remain calm and try to redirect.

When it comes to hurting someone else we must again find out what the motive is. What are they saying to you? (go away, no, I am confused, I am frustrated, I don’t understand, I need attention?).   We must give them another way to communicate these things. We must also not reinforce these behaviors when they occur. Structuring the environment is key. Building a communication system is key. Sleep, eating, exercise is very helpful. Having the student do meaningful lessons also helps.

5)What type of curriculum is good for a student in an inclusive environment? This depends on their level of academic ability, social levels, sensory challenges.   Some students can do the same curriculum with some accommodations. Some students need a functional based curriculum. Some students need more breaks when included. Some students need some additional support in one or more subjects.

6)How does one develop the IEP? There is a simple formula. Good assessments in all areas lead to strengths and challenges. A goal should then be written to address each challenge. Additional therapeutic support should be included to support sensory needs, executive functioning needs, communication needs, & fine motor & motor planning needs. The type of educational environment should be described in the IEP. Parent training should be in the IEP. Teacher education is important. Understanding of Autism should be considered as well. Academic support should be provided where needed. Behavioral support should be provided where needed.

7) What should be done by the school and teacher to help student who enters puberty? This is a sensitive area. The parents should really take the lead on this. They should meet with the teaching staff & explore beliefs & values & determine the best approach for helping this child. Just like any other child, this student will need help in understanding how his or her body is changing. Parents need to explain this. Teachers in secondary programs can help as well with parent permission. Social Stories are a good tool to explain how our body is changing. Sometimes doctors can help. Sometimes outside counselors can help. There are several great curriculums for helping all special needs learn about body changes.


Karen Kaplan
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