School for the Autistic Is Part Of New Study
by Brie Zeltner, Plain Dealer, September 2002
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Beachwood - Monarch School, the first in Ohio devoted solely
to autistic children, has joined with two Boston hospitals and
Harvard Medical Center to develop a model curriculum that
could be replicated in schools across the country.
The goal is to develop and
test a technologically advanced method for teaching the
growing number of children with this disorder.
Monarch is teaming up with a
group of specialists from Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard
Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital to test the
effectiveness of a technology that uses visual cues to enhance
the communication and life skills of autistic children.
Monarch was opened by the Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau
two years ago, a few months before the Cleveland Clinic
launched its Center for Autism School. Autism, a type of
developmental disorder caused by a brain abnormality, has no
known cause or cure. Children with autism tend to have
difficulty with social and communication skills and are
affected by the disorder in varying degrees and at different
stages of development. The complexity of the disorder makes it
difficult to treat by any single method, with early intensive
education being the best way to reduce the symptoms. Public
school systems generally lack the expertise and funding needed
to provide these services, and are dealing with rising numbers
of autistic students each year.
While the exact number of
autism cases in the United States is not known, the increase
noted by school administrators appears to be part of a
national trend. The rise has been likened to an epidemic, with
an estimated 1 in 500 children affected as compared with 4 in
10,000 40 years ago, according to the National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development. In Ohio last year, nearly
3,000 school-age children were identified as autistic, up from
1,600 in 1999 and 1,000 in 1998, according to state officials
at the Office for Exceptional Children.