Teaching Children with Autism, continued
It wasn’t too long ago that the accepted incidence of autism was 1 in 10,000. That has been steadily increasing. Last year, it was about 1 in 65. The current statistic is 1 in 45. It is a bit like climate change, not so readily apparent to everyone but sneaking up on us nevertheless. In Ontario, where I live, there are about 9,000 children receiving treatment through the government’s Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) program. There are said to be about 16,000 children with autism on the wait list. Since a child’s delays are best addressed while he/she is young, it would be best if these children could start receiving ABA-based instruction by time they are 2-3 years old, and that isn’t happening.
I expect that most of the parents of the children on the wait list would like the government to allocate enough money to the IBI program to do away with the wait list. But “It ain’t quite that simple!” From time to time, I have been writing about common ABA errors, and that is really about the level of training among IT’s who are working within an ABA-based model of treatment. There aren’t enough good instructor therapists to provide good quality instruction to the children that we have in treatment now, and I hate to think about what would happen to the quality of instruction if we suddenly opened the doors to a host of even less qualified staff. What to do?
It seems like one-on-one instruction is going to continue to be needed for all of our children with autism, at least while they are beginning learners. Since autism is considered to be a social communication problem, I believe that the needed one-to-one instruction should occur within the context of children who are in a social environment (kudoes to Am Badwall and her Missing Links centre for creating such a venue for an unfortunately small number of children with autism!).