Social interactions stemming from effective communication are very critical in society. This means that communication with different people with differing characteristics. Among the different people are those suffering from various disabilities which impacts on the ability to communicate, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Such individuals have developed unique ways of communicating as they have problems learning social cues and recognizing expressions. In this paper, an investigation of what we can do at an early age to socially integrate autistic children with normally developing peers is carried out. This is recognizing the fact that such individuals also form an important part of our society and ought to be adequately integrated. The project provides a definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder as a developmental disability that affects social interactions, verbal, and non-verbal communications. The research history into this topic is provided, suggesting recent development in research interest in the area of ASD and how it impacts on communication. This section is followed by a review of literature into the topic of ASD, including the various models and theories which relate to the condition and its effect on social relations. The most significant section of this research is the proposal of an evidence-based social program aimed at achieving integration of autistic children with peers who are developing normally. Details of the program are discussed, including its implementation, strengths and limitations. This section is followed by a discussion section, which details the effectiveness of the program and goes propose some ways of improving the program and the ability of children with ASD to communicate and socialize with their peers in society.
The historical understanding of Autism is not so elaborate based on the relative new models of diagnosis. However, Eisenberg and Kanner (1959) underscores that early studies on autism and its characteristic in children focused on the research by Gillberg and Gillberg proposing the Kannerian autism as a distinct diagnostic manual for autistic conditions. The contemporary evolution of intervention models were informed by the widespread mechanism of understanding the prevalence rates of the condition recognizing the increased symptoms among children. The existence of the efficiency gap among the process of addressing autistic challenges and the outcome of intervention brought to fore the fundamental issue of social integration.
According to Bettelheim (1956), the diagnostic validity of autism was historically tentative with little consensus among clinicians and researchers on the use of social integration and an evidenced based practitioners’ program. This implies the question of empirical validation that led to the inference to the ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria manual. The general definitive understanding of autism condition relative to the use of social integration methods accepted the need for the future utilization of management strategies that focused on integration the children with autism in the wider social spectrum. The emergence of change in perspective and theoretic implication presents an opportunity for practitioners to engage in further research in a bid to ground an eventual conceptualization of social integration program as multifactorial, neurodevelopmental and heterogeneous response to the deficits exhibited by autistic children.
The historical perspective of intervention mechanism through social integration depicts a trajectory of diagnosis criterion focusing on capacitating the children motor skills, decreasing the delays and providing social integration (Bettelheim, 1956). The historical understanding of the nature of autistic difficulties explains the contemporary strategies that practitioners have developed to encourage an integrative model to foster greater competency and skill in a bid to achieve social integration. The lack of a clear scientific evidence of the success of social integration in the past forms the basis for examining the research based on the remedial programs and the characteristic difficulties in social integration.
Bettelheim (1959), any efforts to come up with ways of assisting such children is welcome. It is out of this argument that the program with different levels of social interaction and supervised play is proposed. The understanding of feral children, as abandoned in their formative years, is a conceived evaluation of the causes of autism to construct a social integration programs. The program is founded on the realization that ASD results in serious impact on the ability to communicate, as well as a serious lack of social ability. Also, provided the argument presented by Bettelheim (1959) that socialization is critical for all individuals in society, the need for effective interventions is highlighted.
According to Bettelheim (1959), the intrigues of autism and feral children are manifested in the design of an effective program to address the question of social integration program. The understanding of feral children, as abandoned in their formative years, is a conceived evaluation of the causes of autism to construct a social integration programs. It is evident that given that feral children lost direct human contact and missed out on the imperative of social environment, the documentation and verification of scientists on the effect of socialization on communication and language is the basis for a social integration program that enhances the development of human behavior (Bettelheim, 1959).
The proposed program’s effectiveness is highlighted in the fact that it is founded on the well researched and established theories and models of intervention in ASD. Such models include Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which has been tested in practice and proven effective in providing intervention to children with autism and other related disorders (Nikopoulos & Nikopoulou-Smyrni, 2008). Various past studies have investigated the adoption of programs based on Applied Behaviour Analysis, which have played a key role in the development and learning of children with ASD.
Thus, the proposed program is meant to assist children with autism to develop social and communicative abilities by capitalizing on development of their social skills. Also, social integration will enhance the reduction and management of autistic and feral challenges. As a result, the range of development potential exhibited in children with autistic as a result of growing in the socially isolated environment. The integration program will extensively shape the process of continuous observation, hearing, reinforcement and role play to allow these children to develop beyond their autistic deficits.
Among the major strengths, and the basis of effectiveness in the adoption of such a program, is revealed in the focus on assisting the children to deal with their major fears, and thus, confront their weaknesses. The implementation of the program will involve important input of specialists in dealing with the disorder, enhancing its success in implementation. The program will be among those that can be effectively used in integrating children with ASD with their normally developing peers in education settings, such as in line with inclusive education (Granpeesheh, Tarbox, Najdowski, & Kornack, 2014).
Additionally, the integration program will extensively shape the process of continuous observation, hearing, reinforcement and role play to allow these children to develop beyond their autistic deficits. The opportunities of interacting lay the foundation for the effectiveness of social integration programs because the child will have the opportunity to interact with normally developing children (Dean, Kasari, Shih, & Frankel, 2014). In addition, a socially integrated environment facilitates a demonstration of socially and emotionally appropriate behavior hence allowing autistic children to be socially skilled.
However, the program has some limitations, including ethical concerns. When working with children with autism, there are some ethical considerations that are necessary, which when addressed will not affect its implementation (Zane, 2012). Among the important ways of addressing such will be by seeking informed consent from parents and guardians. With such ethical issues addressed, the proposed program will be effectively implemented and successfully used in helping children with autism to communicate and integrate well with their peers. Such a program will be effective in assisting the learning process in individuals with ASD (Granpeesheh, Tarbox, Najdowski, & Kornack, 2014).
Bettelheim, B (1959). Feral Children and Autistic Children. American Journal of SociologyVol. 64, No. 5 (Mar., 1959), pp. 455-467
Eisenberg, L. and Kanner, L. (1956), Childhood Schizophrenia Symposium, 1955. 6. Early Infantile Autism, 1943-55. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 26: 556–566.