- Good Practices
Teaching students 8 – 13 years old who have been diagnosed with autism
Our school contributes to students with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) by involving them in a group for resource support. The resource support includes not only the regular learning process and teachers according the educational program, but also specially assigned resource teacher, logopedist and psychologist. The students are 4 and are from 1st to 4th grade. All of them have speech impairment including inarticulation, inability to form words or syllables, heavily impaired verbal processing. All of them have intellectual challenges for their age group. Their educational program is individually assigned and consists of individual plans and teaching regimes.
- Included in school/society
- Students age range:
- 8, 13
- Curriculum area:
- Year period:
- All year long
- Step by step description, including actions to be developed for preparation and implementation:
- The special program includes individually scheduled appointments with their teachers who collaborate closely with the specialist from the “Team for personal development support” The educational material is adapted according to their abilities while in the same time improvement in every step of the process is sought. Much attention is paid to the development and improvement of the fine motor skills using different techniques. One such technique which gives promising results is playing with paper – cutting, puncturing, squeezing and tearing paper. Space and time orientation and motor coordination are improved by rhythmic exercises involving lower and upper limbs – foot stamping, back and forth leg movement, walking, punching, different arm exercises, hand clamping etc. Both teachers and the specialists try to follow the students’ specific needs, use their language and encourage their positive results. The teachers need to be very patient and willing to help while constantly adapting different techniques for easy learning of the special material in the individual educational program. In order to achieve better results every task is presented in a form of specific instruction, composed of small steps, which are then repeated until the students follow the idea and develop the needed skill. Often this process requires not only saying but also repeatedly acting what needs to be done. The learning through acting algorithm is a good tool for easier forming of different skills. Stimulating students’ interest is crucial for the effectiveness of the educational process. The ASD students often have strong interest or passion towards specific theme or object – cars, animals, cubes etc. Teachers often use such strong theme or object interests as an appropriate link to the learning material. Finding that special interest or passion is a priority as this helps the student to learn better through his own specific interest. Encouragement is a very important aspect of whole process. All efforts are vigorously encouraged using different prizes (verbal and material - stickers, stamps etc.) Encouragements proved to be an effective way for achieving the desired behavioral and educational standards in ASD students. Encouragements and other “problem behavior alternatives” successfully replace punishment and prohibition measures. What initially may seem as a small success is actually a big achievement for ASD students. They are orientated in the school’s environment. They may not be able to name an object, but they are familiar what it is for and how to use it. They are familiar with the names and appearance of the fruits and vegetables, the basic vehicles and human body parts. They understand short questions and instructions and successfully deal with different tasks. They know and distinguish letters and numbers, compare smaller and upper case letters, form syllables and short words using models, schemes, pictures and puzzles. They learned how to write letters using templates, sketch models and dotted lines. They distinguish letters from other graphical signs. They understand short questions and give reasonable non-verbal answers. The students learned how to group objects according to a specific attribute and some of them know how to exclude an object which differs from the group. Some of the students have knowledge to the numbers up to 10, others up to 20 – they know them, count them and know how to write them. One of the students performs simple arithmetics using a calculator and the others with the help of appropriate didactic tools. They ASD students are familiar with the basic geometrical shapes and distinguish their forms in the surroundings. They are able to find out shapes with specific forms. The students maintain the needed personal hygiene habits - while using the toilet, when washing and eating. The proper organization of the environment is an important aspect supporting the good learning process of the ASD students. Structuring the environment with visual schemes gives these students a lot of comfort.
- Resources to be used, including human resources, materials and spaces:
- human resources – teachers, speech therapist, psychologist, assistant teacher, specialized offices for children with learning difficulties, working with parents and relatives, specialized didactic materials
- Difficulties found while implementing it:
- 1. Training for teachers specialist in PS and middle school pedagogy, to work with children with special needs 2. Financing from the Ministry of education for settings up a special class rooms for carrying out teaching of students with special needs. 3. More effective support from different types of institutions.
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