School to Assist in Autism Healing

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AUTISM is a condition from the birth or developed in childhood which was caused by too much folate during pregnancy or other matter which caused brain cell anomaly in babies. Autism is very difficult to heal especially if brain cell and network are already completely developed. Autism caused the sufferer to unable to establish normal communication and social life, resulting in an isolated child and the child will be lost in his/her repetitive world, with obsessive activity and interest. The child will live in his/her own imagination, become a loner, and passive to surrounding environment. According to Power (1989) a child with autism is characterized with six disorders, including in social interaction, communication (language and speech), emotional behavior, playing pattern, sensory and motor disorder, late or abnormal development.

Autisme is grouped into five categories. First is Autistic Disorder (Autism), showed up before 3 years old and characterized with disorder in social interaction, communication and imaginative playing ability and stereotype in interest and activity. Second is Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder in social interaction and limited activity and interest, but in general did not show any lateness in speech and language, and has above average intelligence. Third is Pervasive Developmental Disorder, when a child did not show overall criteria in certain diagnosis (Autisme, Asperger). Fourth is Rett’s Syndrome, which is more common in girls and rarely seen in boys. Started to develop normally then experience backwardness/ a loss of his/her ability; a loss of hand function which is replaced by repeated hand movements during age one and four. Fifth is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, showed normal development in the first two years and suddenly loss his/her gathered capabilities.

No medicine is currently able to heal autism. Medical experts are still searching for the most appropriate method to heal autism. It is believed that routine and appropriate therapy can reduce autism effect. Therapy can be in a form of education or attention from parents and family members.

School as a vehicle to obtain education, skill, view and knowledge can also be used as a healing means for child with autism. It is best to be started early with appropriate teaching method. Health experts and psychologists discovered appropriate method to treat autism by providing educational playing environment which can also stimulate sensory motor and response of child with autism to be more active and sensitive to surrounding environment. Early intervention is recommended from age less than 3.5 years for autism child. At around the age, a child brain develops very fast and easily changed against external responses, thus it will be very easy for autistic child to recover and connect with surrounding environment, exiting his/her own world.

With the increasing number of autistic children in Jakarta, there are many schools for autistic child in Jakarta. The schools must have an appropriate therapeutical system, including integrated individual service for education and therapy and assist parents to obtain optimum service with sufficient information and appropriate program for the autistic child.

Every autistic child must be accompanied by a teacher, who specifically handle the child lesson. Lessons in autism special school must include: developmental approach in relation to education as known by floortime, Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication for Handicapped Children, Biological Treatment which include but not limited to: diet, vitamin and medication to reduce certain behaviors (aggressiveness, hyperactive, self-wounding and the like), Speech Language Therapy, including but not limited to association disorder and auditory process handling, communication and communication ability improvement, including Picture Exchange Communication System, sign language, visual strategy by using pictures to communicate and other communication aids, intensive Autism service, including teamwork from various fields to provide intervention in school, home and other social environment. Sensory therapy include but not limited to Occupational Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy and Auditory Integration Training.

Teacher criteria for autistic child should be person with sufficient competency to handle autistic child, and should have interest to be involved in an autistic child life, must be very patient and high interest to learn new things as autism is a dynamic field which continuously showed new things unheard of before.

The most appropriate studying method is depend on the child age and learning ability and disorder faced by the child, and learning style of each child. Employed method generally comprised a combination of several methods. Many, although not all child responded very well to visual stimulus thus they are given learning method which employs many visual stimulus. Lesson which used supporting tool is often selected. Supporting tool may include pictures, posters, balls, building blocks and the like. In the first months, the child should be accompanied by a therapist who act as a special teacher.

Fee imposed by autistic child school ranged from Rp 1.5 million to Rp 3 million per month, as special school is normally require a much higher cost than regular schools. This may impose an additional burden for the parents as not only they must face their child disorder, but also the high school fee which should be paid for their child schooling.

Change to be expected after following an intensive therapy in a special autistic school is the autistic child can communicate normally, from mostly one sided to two sided. There is a response and feedback in communication. Other changes to be expected include self-help skill, independency, integration and normal function in the school environment. This will be evident if the child can master his/her attitude thus he/she will show normal attitude, with normal speech and communication, and has sufficient academic view in line with a child of his/her age. (William Xue)

Jakarta Globe, November 17, 2009