Autism is one of the most commonly-misunderstood learning disabilities today, despite the fact that so many children and adults fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. The number of infants and toddlers diagnosed with autism has increased substantially since the 1980s — not necessarily because more people have autism now than before, but because medical and educational experts have begun learning more about the signs of autism and about how children on the autism spectrum process new information and interact with others.
One of the best things parents can do for their autistic children is to enroll them in special education programs for kids with learning disabilities — and here are just a few reasons why these autism programs are so important:
- One of the defining characteristics of an autistic child is that he or she doesn’t innately understand others’ body language and facial expressions. Most people don’t realize that the majority of communication actually taken place via body language signals, which in turn provide clues about social norms. While other children don’t even have to think about another person’s body language in order to derive meaning from it, an autistic child will benefit from advanced education that breaks down what certain signals mean.
- Young children with autism often struggle with their own emotions, too, so this is a major part of special education programs geared toward autistic students. Learning how to identify their own emotions and how to cope with those emotions in healthy ways. Emotional understanding is an essential part of self-care that every child needs to learn, but autistic children may need a little extra help with this.
- Most importantly, high-quality special education programs for autistic children will recognize that a learning “disability” like autism is not indicative of the child’s intelligence and ability to learn! Many autistic children grow up to be incredibly successful — in fact, we often consider them to be geniuses — because their ability to learn and grow is not restricted by their disorder. It’s important to have an education program that can create a unique plan for each child which encourages them to keep learning.