Transforming Special Education

Some thoughts from Ashish on how special education can be improved to further incorporate autistic individuals in society:

Special education requires a change in course governments are spending not enough money to educate children with autism. They are always short of funds to provide the necessary supports and services. This is unfair to the students and creates problems down the road for students, their families, and society at large. These problems include low self- esteem, unrealised potential, high unemployment, and lack of integration into society. The problem is worsening at an alarming rate.

My business plan calls for government to work with private industry to identify skills that students with autism bring to the table. The schools would then orient the curriculum towards the students acquiring proficiency in these skills. The students will graduate from high school ready to work and contribute meaningfully to the employer. For every successful placement the employer will reimburse the school with a sum of money, thereby easing the financial burden of the school.

An example of a useful skill would be making pizza in a restaurant. The student will take classes in culinary arts, pizza basics, working with appliances, math, language arts, and basic science. This will be supplemented with lots of practice in a test kitchen. This will ensure that the student graduates ready for a job.

Another example of a skill would be software testing. There is a huge demand for software testing, and students with autism are uniquely qualified for this work. The classes would include basics of Microsoft office, basics of testing, and math classes to learn to record and analyze test results. This would be supplemented with extensive testing practice.

The government must initiate pilot projects with private companies at the earliest. There must be a sense of utmost urgency around this effort. Companies must be provided incentives like tax breaks to participate in such initiatives. Only then will measurable progress be made.

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