When people think of children and learning disabilities, they often think that the child is “stupid” or otherwise mentally incapable of “normal” levels of thought. While there may be some cases where that is true, there are many cases where it is not. Autistic children, for example, are often extremely intelligent — their difficulties lie with communicating their thoughts through social and non-verbal cues. In fact, between 0.5% and 10% of people with autism show some kind of unusual ability, like extensive trivia memorization to the rare talents of autistic savants such as the famous “Rain Man.”
What are some signs of autism?
The number of people with autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, and it continues to increase. There are quite a few early warning signs for autism in children.
- Infants: Infants with autism smile less often than their contemporaries. They also look at people less often, and don’t respond very often to their own name.
- Toddlers: Toddlers that have autism make less eye contact and have difficulty taking turns. Simple motor functions may prove difficult as well, such as pointing at things to indicate them.
- Children ages 3 to 5: Children between the ages of 3 and 5 exhibit similar difficulties as mentioned previously. Turn taking is difficult, as are following social norms and nonverbal communications. They may also have difficulty interpreting and responding to emotions, or even conveying emotions of their own.
What are some ways to get help for children with autism?
There are many ways to get help for children with autism. There are many schools for children with learning disabilities that have many resources for children with autism. Most of these schools have special education programs that are customized to fit each student’s unique needs — after all, for example, not all children with autism show it in the same way. Where one struggles, another might excel, and therefore different areas of focus should be paid to each child. All students that are enrolled in a special needs school should receive something called an “Individualized Education Program,” or “IEP” that will show how that particular school will meet and work with your child’s individual needs.
Autism is one of the learning disabilities that the public understands the least. About 1 out of every 50 children that are school age are diagnosed with some form and some degree of autism. If recognized early enough, behavioral or cognitive intervention may be able to help autistic children achieve some degree of social and communication skills, but not often to the “normal” degree. There are, however, many places that focus on help for children with autism.