The number of autistic students entering the private and public school systems has skyrocketed over the last ten years, prompting the CDC to do a full study on how having autistic children in the classroom changes the dynamics. Teachers who are not well prepared can feel frustrated or overwhelmed.
Administrators can also feel frustration or the sense of being overwhelmed for different reasons, as it is estimated that the cost of just one autistic child in the school system can cost $25,000-$100,000 more than a non-autistic child for a single school year. That can be difficult for schools with tight budgets and sharp increases in autism.
The findings prompted CDC director, Dr. Colleen Boyle, to respond, “It is concerning.”
The challenge school districts are facing is funding is not keeping up with demand which forces administrators to dip into their general education fund to make ends meet. While that can be a short-term solution because the requirements rise each year, the schools are feeling the “financial squeeze.”
In the early 1980s, 1 in every 15,000 students was afflicted with the condition. Now, it is one in 68, according to the CDC.
The CDC’s Boyle said, “There is a significant message for parents, grandparents, or prospective parents in this study. The numbers are concerning to us. So if you have concerns about your child, don’t wait.
“That’s our message to parents. Act early. There are a lot of free resources to track development. You can reach out to a doctor or early education facility or a school system in the area.”
One of the disorders to be on the lookout for is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, behavior, and sensory processing. It is called a “spectrum” disorder because the symptoms and their severity can vary widely from person to person.
Common symptoms of ASD include difficulty with social communication and interaction, repetitive behaviors or routines, limited interests or activities, and sensory processing differences. ASD is typically diagnosed in childhood, and early intervention and treatment can significantly improve outcomes for individuals with the disorder. There is currently no known cure for ASD, but various therapies and interventions can help individuals with ASD manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
The exact cause of ASD is not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors likely causes it. Genetic factors can include inherited mutations or gene variations that affect brain development, while environmental factors can include prenatal exposure to toxins, infections, and complications during pregnancy or birth. However, it is important to note that scientific evidence links the use of Tylenol for pain relief during pregnancy to an increased risk of ASD. This has led many parents to file Tylenol Autism lawsuits across the country.
There are many ways to help a child with autism, and the approach should be individualized based on the child’s specific needs and strengths. Here are some general strategies that may be helpful:
- Early intervention: Early diagnosis and intervention can help improve outcomes for children with autism. Interventions may include behavioral therapies, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.
- Create a structured and predictable environment: Children with autism may benefit from a structured routine and environment that is predictable and consistent. This can help reduce anxiety and increase feelings of safety and security.
- Use visual supports: Visual supports such as pictures, schedules, and visual timers can help children with autism understand expectations and transitions.
- Develop social skills: Social skills can be challenging for children with autism. Social skills training can help them learn how to interact with others and navigate social situations.
- Provide sensory accommodations: Many children with autism have sensory sensitivities or preferences. Providing accommodations such as noise-canceling headphones or a sensory-friendly environment can help them feel more comfortable and regulated.
- Work with a team: Autism is complex, and it often takes a team of professionals, including doctors, therapists, and educators, to provide the best care for a child with autism. Working collaboratively with a group can help ensure the child’s needs are comprehensively addressed.