Max´s Case Study
Max is a 5 year old African American boy who suffers from pragmatic language delay and autism. In order to cope with this disorder, Max is taught according special educational program 3 times a week in his preschool classroom. The pragmatic language delay is often connected with autism as it happened in Max´s case. This child experiences difficulties in semantic and pragmatic language impairment. He cannot use language as effective source of communication to introduce his thoughts, and he has problems with understanding other people. The special education that Max receives should help him to become a part of the society where he lives. People with autism are very dependent on others since they cannot take care of themselves even when they achieve the mature age. Hence, the role of this education is to teach Max how to interact with the society he lives in and to care about himself without physical assistance.
As well as many children with autism, Max demonstrates low interest in games. He has some toys which he knows and may use playing, but it is very difficult to make him play with new toys. One of the main difficulties is that such children have the repetitive patterns of behavior; they do same actions again and again and prefer to stay in this circular flow. They recognize the limited number of symbols and, therefore, play with the same toys avoiding new ones. In addition, children who suffer from this disorder have problems with their memory. Importantly, they face difficulties in recalling not only some facts, but also events from their own lives.
According to Piagetian theory, autism starts at the sensorimotor stage, while the formal operational stage is the period when it develops. Piaget believed that all children were autistic since they lived in their own worlds. In order to help Max to function normally in the society, one needs to teach him problem-solving skills. First and foremost, the boy should be aware of consequences of any of his actions. Second, he must know and achieve the goals that contribute to the development of social relationships. The next step to help this child is to explain how he should respond to some events and actions.
As it is typical for autistic children, Max has high IQ; however, he still tends to experience challenges when studying at school. The reason is that he often perceives information rather literarily. Therefore, it is quite difficult for him to understand teacher´s tasks that require imagination and creative thinking. However, regarding knowledge of the word, one can state that Max has no problems in recognizing an average single word.
The child that suffers from autistic disorder faces difficulties in comprehending and expressing human emotions. According to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, such disability leads to identity confusion. Consequently, one can see that learning certain social behaviors and norms is extremely important for Max. In other words, there is a high necessity to provide him with all the needed and recommended trainings and teachings. In fact, Max differs from normal children in terms of his temperament. The boy is very phlegmatic; he does not express his feelings and emotions. This feature can be noticed even in infants who suffer from the autistic disorder. In spite of such a phlegmatic temperament, children with autism have their own personalities. Each of them is an individual in many aspects and differs from other people.
Max is not attentive and has many difficulties in concentrating or focusing on something. It is difficult for him to memorize any information or data. The persistence level of such children is also very low. They are not adapted for living in society and require help in order to function normally among people. In addition, Max has lack of motivation since he simply cannot assess possible consequences of one or another action and behavior as a whole in the society. The boy does not feel any attachment to other people and is rather indifferent to their presence or absence. However, one can state that he may feel a kind of attachment to things that he likes and is acquainted with. For instance, between two objects, Max always chooses the familiar one rather than unfamiliar one.
Max needs help not only for communicating and living among other people, but also in controlling his self. Remembering Freud´s psychoanalytic theory, one can state that children with autism lack Super Ego. On the contrary, their Id is the strongest part of their subconscious. As they lack Super Ego, they do not feel empathy or any moral belonging.
Max faces difficulties in all aspects of verbal communication. His speech is not fluent and may contain grammar mistakes. Moreover, the boy may confuse the meanings of words. Considering Max’s physical development, one can state that he is challenged in terms of balance and is not able to function as ordinary children. Regarding self-help skills, he can dress and eat himself but sometimes he fails to do it properly.
In order to help Max to cope with autism, it is necessary to implement some strategies that should bring success. First, it is imperative to establish social communication for the boy. One should clearly demonstrate his/her non-verbal signals during the communication with Max to make the child understand one’s intentions. Second, one has to work as an interpreter between the child and other people. The reason why children with autism do not contact with others is their inability to understand other people. Hence, it is necessary to explain the ideas of other individuals in order to make the boy get used to social communication and demonstrate that he can communicate with others. The third strategy is to encourage the child’s attempts to make friends and help him to develop friendly behaviors, such as sharing and cooperation. The forth strategy is to explain Max the social situation and how it is necessary to act. The child should learn the codes of social conduct that will help him to become a member of the society.
To help Max to overcome autism, it is necessary to develop a plan of actions which will include both long-term and short-term objectives. Long-term goal should be directed on development of the boy’s social interaction and ability to communicate with those people whom he does not know. In other words, the achievement of this aim is supposed to make Max more independent and teach him to make decisions on his own. Short-term objectives that will help to achieve the bigger one should be the following. The first goal is to guide the child during the selection of the topic of the conversation. At the early stage, it is necessary to help the boy to make a choice , but later one should encourage him to act according to his wishes. The child should understand that he can establish the topic for conversation as well as other people do, but he should learn how to select an appropriate subject among the great verity of choices. The second objective is to encourage the boy to gain new experience. The main problem of autism is that it is very difficult to learn something new for people with this disorder. They prefer to stay in their usual cycle of events and activities. Hence, in order to overcome this disorder, it is necessary to break this vicious circle and demonstrate the child that there is much new that he can learn. The third goal is to help the boy to solve problems and cope with failures. Conflicts and mistakes are the essential part of life and no one can totally prevent them; hence, it is necessary to learn how to deal with them. Attaining these three short-term goals will prepare a child to the achievement of a long-term objective which lies in the development of social skills and ability to provide an effective social interaction.
The culture in general, the culture of the school community, and the child´s culture impact his development greatly. The school community and all people that surround him may influence his development in two ways: negative and positive. Max needs support and help from other individuals; otherwise he will never become a normal child.
At first glance, Max does not have any specific patterns of behavior which indicate that he has autism. When monitoring the boy, the observer might think that he is an average child who plays with his favorite toys and all his attention is concentrated on the game. At this age, it is difficult to define whether the child has this disorder. Nevertheless, when one tries to communicate with the boy or establish at least any contact, he/she will notice some difficulties with it.
I can conclude that this experience is extremely meaningful and important for me. As an early childhood teacher, I got to know more about children´s psychology and I believe that this knowledge is very helpful and valuable. I am sure that teachers must be able to communicate with all his or her students and pupils properly and find the best approaches to them. I believe that this experience will make me a better teacher.