While mainstream classrooms can help students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn important social, academic, and communication skills, a new report indicates that these benefits may come at a price in the form of reduced self-esteem and increased isolation.
The researchers found that many students with ASD internalized the negative attitudes and responses of other students toward them. This, combined with unfavorable social comparisons to their classmates, led to a sense of being “different” and more limited than other students.
Williams says, “We are not saying that mainstream schools are ‘bad’ for pupils with autism, as other evidence suggests they have a number of positive effects, including increasing academic performance and social skills. Rather, we are suggesting that by cultivating a culture of acceptance of all and making small changes, such as creating nondistracting places to socialize, and listening to their pupils’ needs, schools can help these pupils think and feel more positively about themselves.”
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