The more I explore the industry of educating autistic children, the more it occus to me that there are two different models out there.
The first one is the management model. Here the top priority is making the autistic student manageable in the classroom. If the child acts up, the first assumption is that the underlying problem is the child's problem: typically, something having to do with attention or sensory processing. The solution is medication (the latest fad is Risperdol) or some sort of "sensory diet" (a weighted vest, a stress ball, time out of the classroom for running around or swinging).
The second model is the education model. Here the top priority is figuring out how to best engage the child in the academic curriculum. While this might include attention enhancing medications and frequent breaks, the first question to be asked, always, is whether the child's lack of attention, fidgets, or misbehavior stem from problems with the task at hand. Are the directions comprehensible? Is the reading over his or her head? Is the group discussion too difficult to follow? Are the math problems too easy? Is the writing assignment too open-ended?
The first model is the easier one to follow--especially if the goal is full inclusion in regular classrooms with minimal disruptions to classroom routines. But if the goal is actual education, then the first thing to look at is whether the assignments that are supposed to be educating the child are actually having this effect--rather than other effects that too many people are only too happy to "manage" away.