***Post written by Michael Crane, Treasurer for WSPA***
It seems today that you can’t work a single day in a public school setting without someone, (usually a teacher) uttering, “I think he’s ‘on the spectrum.’” Autism Spectrum Disorder has received a lot of attention in recent years. Experts tell us the numbers are exploding and there are enough theories postulating why as to fill an overcrowded classroom. But does this child REALLY have the condition commonly known as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD?
The trouble I find with this broad spectrum-based disorder is that the reasons the child may be exhibiting “autistic” behaviors are many and often environmental in nature. As more and more parents become addicted to drugs, use the computer/tablet as a babysitter, and generally sow chaos within their homes, we are seeing our youngest, school-aged children show up lacking very basic language and social skills in larger and larger numbers. Too often teachers lament that these children must be “on the spectrum.” And while many of these children may in fact meet diagnostic criteria, it is my opinion that we are often too quick to label these children as disabled when they simply haven’t been stimulated properly. In the two elementary schools where I work, we are finding that with intensive language and social skills training, many of these children quickly learn and even generalize their newfound skills. Is it magic? No, just a lot of hard work that should have occurred in their previous 5 years of life.