Autism and the Inclusion Mandate
ANN CHRISTY DYBVIK. Education Next4.1 (Winter 2004).
[...]of evolving legislation and educational initiatives, today more than 95 percent of students with physical, emotional, learning, cognitive, visual, and hearing disabilities receive some or all of their education in regular classrooms. U.S. Department of Education statistics show the number of children diagnosed with autism being served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act growing more than fivefold during the 1990s (see Figure 1). In other words, the university setting must mirror the classrooms the teachers will eventually lead. [...]the goals--and effectiveness--of inclusion must be determined by each child's individual education plan, or IEP, the outline of their educational program that schools are mandated to create.
Daniel walks into his kindergarten classroom and drops his outerwear, backpack, and bus harness in a tangled heap in the middle of the floor. Daniel has a singular focus this morning: building a bridge and a house out of Lincoln Logs.
He does not notice as classmates step around or over him as he plays on the hard floor. If other children move into his space, he pushes them away. One or two children greet him, but he does not answer. Daniel keeps up a running dialogue as he plays, in jargon rarely understandable to anyone but himself.
Daniel's educational aide approaches him and, using a handmade schedule book with symbolic pictures, shows Daniel that this is not the time for playing. The first picture on the schedule is a locker, indicating that Daniel is to hang up his coat and backpack. Transitions to new activities are very difficult for Daniel, and he begins to scream and kick. Other children watch quietly or walk away.
Daniel is autistic. He is charming, intelligent, creative, and full of energy, just like his 18 classmates. However, he is unable to use language to interact...