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Down Syndrome and Autism

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Research papers on down syndrome and autism in the last several decades have seen significant improvements in the depth and scope of understanding regarding effective instructional and curricular modalities for exceptional children. Compared to the situation that existed only several decades ago, our current comprehension of the needs of children with developmental and intellectual disabilities is much more nuanced and complex, allowing much more sophisticated, responsive pedagogical methods to be developed and implemented.

However, one misperception that has long characterized the prevalent view of exceptionality is that its incidence is quite low among the general population. Down Syndrome and AutismBased on this misunderstanding, many educators and policymakers alike have tended to compartmentalize the needs of intellectually disabled students, wrongly assuming that most only an infinitesimal number of children among the general population are challenged in this way.

Not only is this view inaccurate, but it also does exceptional children a disservice by limiting the amount of preparation that is allotted to common intellectual disabilities in many general teacher education programs. In order to ensure the most effective educational experience is achieved for the many students that fall along the continuum of intellectual disability, a broader, more far-reaching understanding of common disorders must be cultivated among educators.

In keeping with this objective, the current discussion will address two of the most common intellectual disabilities seen among the population of American school-age children, namely, Down syndrome and autism. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal expression of mental retardation, while the rate of autism diagnoses has increased several times over during the last twenty years.

Clearly, both of these conditions are common enough to merit the serious consideration of educators in the United States. As such, this research paper will present an overview of Down syndrome and autism, paired with a survey of the instructional techniques and modalities that can be used to effectively engage students with these conditions in the learning process.  Finally, in conclusion, an overarching assessment of the implications of Down syndrome, autism, and related disorders for students, educators, parents, administrators, and the public school system in general will be presented.

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