Inclusion of Persons with Autism at Home, School, Work and Within the Community

By Mrs. Bolanle Adewole

Inclusion refers to services and supports provided for persons to access, and to be integrated into community settings such as schools, churches, mosques, airports, restaurants, malls, leisure, recreational & socialization centres and in other activities of daily living.

Why Engage Persons with Autism in Inclusion?

  • They are different, not less.
  • They have set core values including being morally upright, telling the truth, and being focused and consistent.
  • There is growing global recognition, acceptance of them and a place for the differently able.
  • They are largely achievers, with exceptional skills.
  • This is the e-world, where their priceless skills are needed.

“Who is it that knows the absolute truths in this universe to be qualified and defined as normal? Who says autism is abnormal? Perhaps autism is the evolution of the human race that has come to give us a future.”

How to structure Inclusion

A good place to start will be to understand the A-B-C of behaviour. This describes the:

Antecedent: a preceding circumstance (within the environment) that directs the behaviour. It may also be referred to as the stimulus.

 Behaviour: a response from a living organism, to internal and external stimuli.

 Consequence: the outcome of the behaviour. It is what happens after the behaviour. It either motivates and determines the future frequency of the behaviour or abates it.

 Some of the types of stimuli that may create behaviour problems are:

  • Inability to communicate
  • Difficulty with tasks
  • Unfamiliar Surroundings
  • Loud noises, frantic environment
  • Physical discomfort

If the antecedents and stimuli that directly influence behaviour are manipulated, behaviour can be better received and controlled. The person displaying the behaviour can then be included and integrated into the required setting.

Considerations for Inclusion within the Community

  • Identify their characteristics
  • Recognise their needs.
  • Cushion antecedent predictors
  • Distinguish between Can’t and Won’t
  • Create suitable environments/amenities.
  • Acknowledge their presence
  • Ask for their permission before engaging them.
  • Be accepting and polite
  • Give Clear & Precise instructions

Considerations for Inclusion at home

  • Enrich and safeguard the environment.
  • Maintain a balanced and tolerable diet.
  • Give options and choices.
  • Set achievable goals
  • Use Task Analysis by breaking down tasks into the smallest possible components.
  • Intersperse tasks by mixing easy tasks with new or challenging tasks.
  • Send on deliberate errands
  • Give chores
  • Give no preferential treatment
  • Engage in play.

Considerations for Inclusion at School

  • Adapt and individualise the curriculum. Make it concrete, simple and short.
  • Develop an appropriate Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
  • Meet peculiar physical/emotional/natural needs.
  • Plan the activities.
  • Give rapid paced instructions and keep consistently engaged.
  • Give intermittent breaks
  • Prepare Predictable schedules
  • Give functional lessons and do not teach above their heads.
  • Present activities in order of simple to complex.

Considerations for Inclusion at Work

  • Respect them just as you would want to be respected.
  • Ensure they are provided with Visual Day Planner/Routines/Rules
  • Create a Buddy system in which you pair them up with an actively social person.
  • Person-centre their planning and schedule by making them part of it.
  • Encourage the generalisation of skills to different situations.
  • Elicit their trust
  • Organise staff sensitivity trainings.
  • Take nothing personal.
  • Set achievable goals.

It makes a world of difference to make room for the differently able and allow them contribute to our world. “The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ― Temple Grandin.

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