Education for Students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder): Inclusive Approach for Special Educational Needs (SEN)
This work is based on a critical analysis and evaluation of SEN (Special Educational Needs) provision in the student’s workplace (primary school), regarding initiatives that are to be adjusted to the students’ developmental needs. The practical focus of SEN is related to elaborating the inclusive approach for students with disabilities, including ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The main features recognized in this group of psychological health problems are deficits in social communication, integration, and interaction explicitly observable in restricted range of interests and repetitive patterns of behavior that prevents individuals from effective socialization and self-actualization, as the part of progress of personality development.
In this relation, the praise of inclusive-based approach is that it can help children at primary school in the age of 6-10 experience less problems in their condition of disability, practically related to autism. In the framework of the current educational policy elaborated by many developed countries of the world in the past 30 years, the step ha has been done towards rejection of the orthodoxial “segregated education for children with special educational needs.” (Winter and O’Raw 3). And, in response to political and social initiatives of parental advocacy groups, legislative changes to reform education to address social and ethical concerns to children with special needs have been implemented by numerous internal human rights organizations, including Council of Europe and United Nations Organization (e.g. Political Declaration (2003) and Action Plan (2006) by Council of Europe and UNO International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(2006), Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act (2004) by National Council for Special Education (NCSE). These initiatives are formulated as sets of recommendations for “mainstream schools, special classes, special schools and the wider community” (Winter and O’Raw 1) to encourage educators, parents, caregivers, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and peers at classroom to arrange practical help for students with disabilities by social inclusion. In this relation, the aim of this project is to encourage educators, parents, care givers and peers to help students with SEN to socialize effectively in the community by implementation of inclusive based learning approach, based on innovation initiatives, specifically related to technological advancements to be used in classrooms.
Rationale for Inclusive Education
Inclusive-based learning promotes the “sense of individual worth” (Winter and O’Raw 11), as applicable to needs of every student in class. According to the US-based report that focused on implementation principles of inclusive approach over 1,000 school districts, identified the following positive outcomes of the approach “visionary educational leadership; collaboration between everyone concerned; refocused use of assessment; support for staff and students; appropriate funding levels; parental involvement; curriculum adaptations and instructional practices” (Lipsky and Gartner 319; Winter and O’Raw 23). According to Uditsky (12), inclusion as a set of principles to encourage positive attitude to diversity motivates community members to praise individual worth of every students. In this relation, Hall (196) is focused on the importance of full membership of all age-appropriate peers to make friendly connections to children with special needs. It is a move towards modifying the scope of primary schools, with respect to diversity (Clark et al. 23). In this relation, UNESCO (2005) indicates that it is moral responsibility “to ensure that those ‘at risk’ are carefully monitored, and that steps are taken to ensure their presence, participation and achievement in the education system” (Winter and O’Raw 26).
Inclusive Education in Practice: Successful Implementation of the SEN Approach
Successful implementation of principles of inclusive-based approach to education is based on changing teaching strategies, including modification of methodology towards flexibility in completion and differentiation of tasks to ensure additional support for children with disabilities (UNESCO, 2005). Curriculum should be adapted to meet diverse needs of students. The inclusive school should be responsible and accessible for all community members.
Successful inclusive-based approach for children with disabilities, and practically with ASD, may be based on different teaching strategies and approaches, formulated clearly as learning objectives. Besides, formative assessment strategies are recommended for use to identify the students’ progress on the content of lessons, multi-sensory approaches for positive reinforcement, application of new knowledge / skills in practical situations, teaching to express ideas spontaneously; develop / train language and communication/ personal / social skills; promotion of individual and consolidated learning (Department of Education and Science 105).
Considering the fact that inclusion is a process to address diversity, it should be taken into account that “differences come to be seen more positively as a stimulus for fostering learning, amongst children and adults” (Winter and O’Raw 35) to remove barriers in communication. Practically, inclusive-based learning is based on problem-solving and continuous improvements of the implemented policy. Children with diverse needs should be encouraged to express creativity across the curriculum, apart from test and exam results. Inclusion serves to “invoke a particular emphasis on those groups of learners who may be at risk of marginalization, exclusion or underachievement” (Winter and O’Raw 35).
Figure 1. The ten major themes of inclusive education in practice. Source: http://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/NCSE_Inclusion.pdf
Provision of Information
The adequate access to information on students’ academic achievements and developmental progress should be the issue of priority for parents and care givers that help children with disabilities to socialize. Parents and other stakeholders should be “supplied with the school policy documents”, as they delivered in terms of clarified understandable points to consider (Winter and O’Raw 53). Parents should be adequately supplied “with information regarding their child’s condition, its treatment, and the special education services provided at the school” (Winter and O’Raw 54). Furthermore, individual concerns of parents should be address through face to face communication and in the frameworks of developed partnership services.
The school environment should provide safe and accessible learning conditions for all students, including the following points: “adequate and appropriate lighting” (Winter and O’Raw 56); “adequate and appropriate acoustic levels”; ensure the availability of differentiated learning centres and proper arrangement support (Winter and O’Raw 57). The control over temperature, humidity and ventilation should be arranged in the classroom. Display materials selected should provide realistic / optimistic / inspirational images of diverse “cultural, racial and ability groups” to meet multilingual approach to diversity (Winter and O’Raw 57). Position of all students should be so that they can “see the board, teacher and displays. Safety equipment should be easily accessible to everyone.
Inclusive School Policies
The school’s policy on inclusive-based approach to education is related to individual planning to meet a child’s needs. Individual Educational Plan (IEP) should effectively outline roles of children, parents, educators, caregivers and peers to coordinate and assess SEN provision principles. In this relation, Westwood (15) is aware that effective shared decision-making and planning of educational activities should be based on ethical considerations. The school’s policy should be based on community involvement and partnership with external organizations and support services.
The Individualised Education Plan (IEP)
Parents and students should be actively incorporated into developing the IEP. The planning should be regularly reviewed, based on “student’s progress monitored” to encourage taking “any future actions to be taken, including new targets and strategies or a need for additional information” and address transition planning issues where appropriate” (McCausland 24; Cited in Winter and O’Raw 65). This will ensure adequate planning for establishing decent communication and self-actualization merits for children with ASD.
Students with SED (special educational needs) should be “taught social skills to help them integrate with their peers” (Winter and O’Raw 67). Practically, effective socialization within the community matters much for students with ASD. They often express anxiety and tension, when establishing eye-to-eye contact and speaking in public. Development of effective communication in groups of peers will definitely help them to feel more confident.
Staffing and Personnel
Staffing and personnel at primary school should consider inclusion as primary aspect of integrated configuration of activities aimed to help students with disabilities to socialize. Support and care about children with SEN will be based on regular training of personnel at school.
Effective collaboration with partners from external agencies will help to build decent teaching and care strategies on inclusive-based education approach. For instance, partnership may be arrange with The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), Special Education Support Service (SESS). Diverse needs of children with ASD make essential “co-ordinating, developing and delivering a range of professional development initiatives and support structures” to grant “teachers the opportunity to build on their existing skills and knowledge and acquire additional expertise to enable them meet the challenge of inclusion” in participation “in continuing professional development, thus expanding their skills base”, based on initiatives of voluntary organizations (Winter and O’Raw 78).
Assessment of Achievement
Classroom assessment of achievement on progress of implementation of the inclusive-based educational initiatives is based on informal assessments, portfolio assessment, self-assessment and peer-assessment. Students should be involved equally into identification of their learning targets.
Appropriate curricular content is essential for students with SEN. The most important initiatives in this relation are based on use of assistive technologies, presented in software applications and modern devices. The use of “assistive technology as a tool for curriculum access is a relatively recent and rapidly evolving approach to education”, however, it is helpful “to expand its application in the inclusive classroom” (Winter and O’Raw 87). Information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer opportunity to “individualize instruction in an engaging, motivating and unobtrusive manner” According to a recent UK-based study in the UK, computers have impact on the accuracy of on-task completion among learners with ADHD (Shaw and Lewis 278). Furthermore, computer applications may help to set spell checker and text-to-speech packages to train students with dyslexia, as well as enhance use of optical recognition software applications, according to notions stated in IEP.
Winter and O’Raw (2010) point out that peer tutoring,
co-teaching, and direct instructions are the best teaching styles that are
useful for children with disabilities. In this relation, “the regular classroom
need to be flexible enough to meet the diverse requirements of all students”,
and “learning support or resource teaching should be delivered within the
mainstream classroom” (89). Clarification of learning instructions if based on
prompting and cueing “to assist memory and learning and to signal transitions”
and “plan a system to gradually fade them out or reduce them over time”. Furthermore, demonstration, modeling, and problem-solving strategies should be introduced in classroom to promote creativity approach.
Gardner (220) and Algozzine et al. (97) distinguished eight learning styles that are “visual/spatial, auditory/linguistic, musical, mathematical, bodily/kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist” (Cited in Winter and O’Raw 90). Practically, they are used to facilitate student accommodation in the frameworks of principles of cooperative group learning under scaffolded instructions. For example, step-by-step problem solving technique is commonly used as an effective teaching strategy designed to ensure dynamical cooperative-based learning among students with diverse needs.
Educators may track the following observable behaviors that show social development of children with SEN:
- Communication with friends / peers;
- Communication with adults;
- Emotional resilience;
- Intellectual competence;
- Problem solving;
- Musical / verbal / kinesthetic / spatial intelligence;
- Love and caring;
- Team collaboration / belonging to a group.
Children with ASD express the stable sense of community through the dramatic play. The trained to feel the cohesive team, while at rehearsals and taking parts on stage. They trained to express emotions (positive and negative) freely. They felt aware and self confident.
Behaviors to monitor children’s emotional development are the following: 1) problem solving; 2) express violence; 3) express solitude; 4) keep secrets; 5) low academic performance.
Table 1. Emotional development.
|Intentional Teaching Objective||Learning Experiences||Resources Provided|
|Develop emotional intelligence||Acting in a dramatic play||Decorations for dramatic play (costumes, scenery)|
|Develop emotional support for characters in critical situations||Watching DVD; learning by exemplary behavior||DVD player set, classroom|
|Develop emotional intelligence||Playing toys (modeling real life situations on them)||Doll house, cars, teddy bears, etc.|
Table 2. Opportunities for children to facilitate their emotional / psychological development.
|positive||Communication skills, physical / mental activity, psychological wellbeing|
|good coping skills||Resilience, conflict resolution|
|have formed strong attachments with their family||Adherence to values of national culture, patriotism, love to relatives / parents|
|interact with other children in positive ways||Dramatic play, game play, compassion and love, care, teamwork, collaboration, shared decision making|
|have a strong cultural identity.||Love to national culture, linguistic competence, attachment to national values / traditions / customs|
Meeting with Anthony’s Parents (SEN student needs)
The meeting took place on 12 December 2016 with a co-worker to discuss one of the individuals who has impairment in cognitive development that hurts his language. The discussion occurred as his family worried that he might not transit from kindergarten to school effectively since he has limited language skills. The child, who goes by the name Anthony, demonstrates appropriate language proficiency to his mother only. Because of this problem, Anthony is unable to interact with his peers and educators. The meeting aimed to evaluate information gathered on the child to determine the best course of action to help manage his condition.
A discussion on the information gathered from Anthony’s parent and Preschool Field Officer was held with Anthony’s mother and preschool field officer to help understand the situation as the child spends a majority of this time with them. It was focused on the spontaneous teachable moment, when the boy expressed violence to his peers throwing wooden blocks. Another boy tried to defend his friends from harm. It was the spontaneous teachable moment of compassion for other children. The meeting recognized the fact that the rate at which children learn language varies. A child has a speech delay if they largely miss some language development milestone (Cole and Flexer 22). The focus of the meeting was to share and evaluate information regarding a child’s language skills and development. The dialogue aimed to appraise his ability to transition to kindergarten by assessing the information provided by the parent and preschool field officer. A discussion with Anthony’s mother emphasized the need for early intervention; not only does he have a history of violence but also evident symptoms of cognitive impairment. For instance, he gets vicious and hits other children both at the learning facility and at home. It is highly likely that he engages in such behavior to gain the attention of other children as well as adults in his community (Hamaguchi 346). On several occasions, Anthony has used objects on other people in violent outbursts including wooden blocks. The details on Anthony’s language and cognitive development outcomes are represented in Table 3and Table 4.
Table 3. Language skills development.
|Meeting on Child Development|
|Receptive language||Anthony will most probably not hear word endings with syllables such as -s or –ed.||It might result in misunderstandings and misuse of verb tense, non-agreement of subject and verb, pluralization, and possessives.|
|Progress in language development||Anthony will develop his vocabulary more slowly than his peers who have no hearing issues.||Anthony may not hear his own voice when he speaks due to the hearing problem. He may be too loud or not loud enough, have a high pitch or mumble because of stress, inflection, or poor rate of speaking.|
|Use of gestures||Anthony’s gestures will often not match his words.||It limits his communication prowess.|
|Likely consequences of the language delay due to the hearing impairment|
|Vocabulary||A gap is expected between Anthony’s vocabulary and that of his peers with typical hearing. Professional and social care and support is necessary for him to catch up with his class mates.||Anthony will have difficulty in understanding words with multiple meanings due to the limited vocabulary. For instance, the word bank can imply a place where money is stored or the edge of a stream.|
|Sentence Structure||Anthony will have a challenge writing and understanding complex sentences, such as those with a passive voice or relative clauses.||Anthony can only produce and comprehend shorter and simpler sentences when compared to children with typical hearing.|
|Speaking||Anthony may not hear quiet speech sounds that include “f,” “s,” “t,” “sh,” and “k” due to harsh hearing loss.||Anthony will not include the special sounds in his speech making it unclear.|
Table 4. Cognitive skills development.
|Meeting on Child Development|
|Integrity of personality||Anthony does not experience self- integrity and attachment to others. He has low rate of ability to have positive relationships with others. He is egocentric in relationships, although his parents are aware that at home he is hyperactive and talkative.||Anthony has low skills in building positive interpersonal relationships with the outer world. This makes it hard for him to stay the whole person while at school and at home. His personality is shattered between differences in conducts that he expresses at home and among friends.|
|Empathy||Anthony cannot feel positive emotions of compassion towards others. It prevents him from socializing within the community of his peers. He turns unable to build friendly relationships with other children.||The boy often sits alone in the corner of the room, apart from children that enjoy playing activities. He feels isolated from their attention, as he shows the self-centered / egocentric behavior. It leads him to express violence to his peers (e.g. throwing wooden blocks).|
|Psychosocial wellbeing||Anthony has poor connection of belonging to a group of his peers; he feels isolated because of his fear to express opinion in loud, so his friends can know what he wants in fact at the moment; he thinks too much over being right; however he fails to feel socially connected with a group of his peers. His sense of feeling perfect prevents him from being understood by his peers; in such cases, he often expresses violent behavior to them.||Anthony feels isolated and misunderstood by his peers. He finds it hard to communicate with them effectively. He finds it hard to play games that he is really interested in. His feeling of domination over others prevents him from feeling joy. In many cases, the boy feels proud, jealous and suspicious to others that affects his positive psychosocial wellbeing.|
|Emotional resilience||Anthony express difficulty in showing what he truly feels because of fear to be prejudged.||The boy has poor skills of emotional resilience that prevents him to feel emotionally connected to others.|
|Academic Achievement||Students with mild to modest hearing losses often achieve one to four grade levels below their peers with normal hearing without appropriate management action. Moreover, the gap in academic success between children with hearing loss and those with normal hearing often widens as they move through school.||Anthony will have difficulty with all aspects of academic achievement, particularly with reading and writing. Therefore, his parents and educators must be actively involved in his academic work for him to excel in school.|
|Social Functioning||Children with severe to intense cognitive development frequently report a feeling of isolation, loneliness, and unhappiness while in school as the challenge limits their ability to socialize.||Anthony will have great difficulty making and keeping friends both at school and at home.|
The meeting helped evaluate the effect hearing loss might have on Anthony’s development. At the onset, the deliberation with the co-worker identified the fact that poor social, emotional, and cognitive development is critical to speech development, learning, and communication. Consequently, children such as Anthony who have listening problems because of information processing problems often fail to take full advantage of the school system. The meeting identified that the child had a language delay due to a social impairment for a variety of reasons. For instance, Anthony could not interact with his educators and classmates. He was often violent when dealing with his friends and classmates. He had great difficulty putting words together to make clear sentences. Moreover, Anthony experienced problems when building his vocabulary, understanding words or sentences, learning words, and saying first words. Moreover, the meeting identified that that effect of the social activity loss rests on the age of the child; the earlier it occurs in the life of the child, the higher its effects on the growth and development of the individual (Bishop and Leonard 34). Besides, the earlier the recognition of the challenge, as well as the provision of necessary care, the less severe the effects of the problem. Therefore, the meeting identified that Anthony might experience communication problems, which might result in poor self-concept and social isolation. Furthermore, the child might have a language deficit leading to learning problems and reduced academic achievement. Finally, the difficulty may set back his vocational and academic choice. Therefore, his educators and parents need to institute and implement measures that will aid in his recovery.
If Anthony’s language delay not managed immediately, it could result in a speech or language disorder as he progresses through the school system. Armed with the knowledge that Anthony has a social cognitive and emotional impairment, the analysis recommends that he should be provided with special services and support to guide him in the development of spoken and signed language. The provision of special care will ensure that his language skills are at par with his peers. Anthony’s mother has effectively facilitated the early detection of the hearing problem in her child, which will allow the delivery of a family-centered intervention to supplement the professional care to be provided at school among other institutions. It is paramount that he gets the professional and social care and support he needs urgently. As per the advice provided by Anthony’s mother, appointments are to be scheduled with an occupational and speech therapist to make sure that he receives the special and professional care he needs immediately.
SEN Initiative: Teaching Strategies for Children with ASD
Development of social interactions and self-identity may be enhanced through the following teaching strategies:
- Establish eye-to-eye contact;
- Communication (verbal, non-verbal);
- Emotional intelligence;
- Emotional resilience;
Wellbeing if the feeling of comfort of belonging to a group and being unique with desires / interests / opinions at the same time. Educators can enhance a child’s psychological and emotional wellbeing by means of responsive and caring relationships (love, compassion, care, help in troubles, problem solving, etc.). They can support children with positive nurturing environments (providing material resources for learning, encourage sharing of ideas / resources among them). Adults may suggest to use productive examples of culture to support children in education (environmental care strategy, love to all living beings and to close persons, etc.). This way children can show individual strengths. I provided children with an opportunity to win the running competition, and all participants were encouraged with the prize or glory and success. Children had motivation to train and try to win. The other example is playing intellectual games that stimulated children to build good connection to cultural values expressed through words and grammatical constructions. For example, children used language and texts in funny way. It was easier to learn foreign languages by means of the use of comparative linguistics methods (comparing words that may have identical pronunciation, but different meaning in different languages). This helped to enhance literacy development. Howard Gardner (201), different skills play role in a personality development. Musical intelligence is responsible for the sense of rhythm (dance, sing, compose music, etc.). Visual (spatial) intelligence enables people to visualize objects, even if they have never seen them (imagination, fantasizing). Verbal intelligence empowers people with good written skills, ability to read and tell stories. Logical mathematical intelligence means the complex of abilities that have deals with digits and logical argumentation. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence gives the feeling of body in movements. Interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence is the complex of features of personality that means success in integrity and communication with others, keeping self-confidence and self-awareness. Naturalistic intelligence is important to feel the part of nature for the holistic purpose. When people feel alive among other living beings, they are more likely to enjoy this world in all aspects positioning themselves friendly to environment. According to Erikson and Erikson (1998), the lifecycle of personality development includes a several stages: infancy (0-23 months): trust & mistrust; early childhood (2-4 years): autonomy vs. doubt; preschool (4-5 years): purpose vs. guilt; school (5-12 years): competence vs. inferiority; adolescence (13-19 years): fidelity and confusion; early adulthood (20-39 years): love and isolation; adulthood (40-64 years): care; maturity (64-death): ego integrity vs. despair. The ability to come through all these stages successfully is important for a normal human lifespan.
Practical Example of SEN Initiative: Behavioral Classroom Poster
Every classroom should be highly inviting and engaging environment to let SEN children feel comfortable during the learning process, encouraging them to study new theoretical and practical skills that are useful for socialization and effective adaptation to social constraints (Morita 443). This procedure makes children to step to the unique road of successful start of progress in life. Their educational and cultural background depends on the clear intentions followed by the chances to stay active, energetic and inspiringly innovative, according to the set principles of nurturing within the classroom environment.
When entering the classroom, children should have positive feelings of emotional rise and good mood to enjoy the benefits that educational environment gives us to take away and develop up to the desirable extents. For instance, the following poster will bring benefits towards the clear understanding of the needs that every student is getting to succeed, based on the perception of the learning process by adolescent conceptions at work (Levine and Hoffner 112) within the sociological perspectives needed for the clear understanding of the relevance between social context and individual differences between people that live in it (Macionis and John 431). The poster reveals the essential features to satisfy emotional expectations of students and teachers as the one living organism, including listening to others, being nice, following the rules, clean up after yourself, help out, say sorry, smiling, invite someone to play, say “please” and “thank you”, take care of materials, etc. Following these points, students may feel comfortable, even based on the visualized imagery, including the bucket that looks like being the rainbow-colored. The starry imagery that are placed close to the bucket are painted in various colors to motivate students to percept the stated principles figuratively and within the set of basic symbolic interpretations.
This project is aimed to suggest the use of the learning environment to enhance children development through play. The families of children were asked to bring copies of books that represent their national / ethnical / cultural identities. Parents were encouraged to read from these books in their national languages to children in a classroom. The words of “Hello” or “Welcome” in the home languages were written in bright colors at posters in the classroom that represent the cultures of the children in your group/centre. The picture storybooks were read by educators in home languages. Children were more inspired with this learning experience. Children reported that they liked books with colorful images more. They were inspired with positive characters (knights, kings, queens, elfs, etc.). The story end up with conquering evil, similarly to the happy ends of almost all fairy tales. Some children, by the way, used unknown words in their home languages, while sharing reading experiences.
Children with SEN need special concerns to their needs
on the part of educators, parents, care givers and peers to help them to
socialize effectively in the community. It is achievable by inclusive education
initiatives, based on modernized teaching strategies, individual learning
planning, and integrating art of painting, music, and dramatic play into
lessons. In overall, the implementation of inclusive based learning approach is
predominantly focused on innovation initiatives, specifically related to
technological advancements to be used in classrooms, including software
applications that help to develop creative potential of children with SEN.
Specifically, children with ASD need develop eye-to-eye contact and show
communicational skills that will promote their socialization benefits. It is
possible through positive reinforcement and productive interaction with peers.
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