It is only fair to point out that integrated classes are in their infancy stage and growing pains were bound to happen. Still, there are already positive and rewarding signs. "I've seen what integration can do. In an environment with proper collaboration, which I am in this year, two of my autistic students have made advances beyond anyone's expectations. This is incredibly rewarding, above all for the parents." Ms. Youakim agrees. "My students are always quick to help out and offer praise for any successes disadvantaged students have. It really is amazing to witness the wisdom and maturity children can show at times."
"We stuck by Matthew. We ploughed ahead. Now we're beginning to see positive changes in him. He still needs medication for other related problems, but we are all learning to cope with it," says Ms. DeMauro's as a gleam lit up in her eye. Integrating children with autism in mainstream classes is a challenging and important concept. Once again, as adults get lost in the shuffle of analysis, it is our children who are teaching us precious life lessons. The question is whether we are listening.