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The Asperger's Syndrome is a mild form of autism which is seen in children of school bearing age. Yet since it is a mild form of the neurobiological disorder, some children who are suffering from Asperger's Syndrome are enrolled in mainstream classroom in order to interact with other children without the disability. This research will disclose how a child who is suffering from Asperger's Syndrome might react into the learning development when they are exposed with other students.
Over the years it has been noticed that it is not always in the best interests of children with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism to be working in groups in a mainstream classroom for their social development. Yet recent studies show that incorporating Asperger's children in mainstream schools might be able to help the child's social development. Those children whose needs are not at the severe end of the spectrum disorder were successfully included in mainstream schools and were able to cope accordingly. There will be a need for flexibility and recognition that the child may need some approaches different to those used for other learners. These techniques and practices will be disclosed in the latter parts of the paper.
Currently the writer is working with a child who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Though the child displays a mild form of autism, the child was enrolled in a mainstream school. Due to this, the researcher would want to determine how a mainstream classroom would be able to support this child.
According to Downshen (2010), there are few facilities which specialises in providing the special needs of children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Some of the children with this disorder were placed in mainstream schools, and their development would depend greatly upon the support and encouragement they can receive from parents, teachers, caregivers, and peers. For those other families, they prefer to place their children in a specialised institution for those with learning disabilities or autism.
Many people with Asperger's Syndrome can function accordingly in most aspects, so the condition does not limit a child's development and success in academic and social standing. They will still be able to cope and learn as well as their peers in the classroom (ibid).
Accordingly, in a study conducted by Epp (2008), she has indicated that kids with Asperger's Syndrome can still excel in mainstream classrooms and be enrolled in public schools. Since some schools do not accept children who have violent and screening behaviors, there is an instrument being used by schools to determine the verbal and cognitive skills of children. This tool will be discussed in detail in the latter parts of the study.
Asperger's Syndrome is named after Hans Asperger, a paediatrician who first described the behaviour patterns which defines the illness. In 1940s, most of Asperger's patients who were suffering from the condition were males. Though they had normal language development and intelligence, the boys were impaired in their social skills, and have poor motor skills and coordination, as well as inefficient when communicating with other peers (Downshen, 2010).
The illness was then diagnosed as a mild form of autism by the Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the United States. Most patients who suffer from the illness are children in the ages of 3 to 9 (Ibid). It is characterized by displaying poor social interactions, odd speech patterns, obsessive behaviours, and other unusual mannerisms in the age group of the child. Medical practitioners and educational staff were able to determine who among the children displays Asperger's Syndrome since sufferers have limited facial expressions and some were known to be obsessive in their routines. A small change in routine might set a tantrum, wherein the child would have unusual sensitivity to given sensory stimuli, such as sensing a bright light which the other kids are not able to see, and hearing a high-pitched sound which was unheard by other children.
According to Downshen (2010), most children with Asperger's Syndrome were able to function and cope normally in daily activities. Aside from some odd behaviors and being socially immature, there are few other indicators that a child might be suffering from the illness.
A child with Asperger's Syndrome might have motor delays, limited interests which would depend on routines, clumsiness, and unusual preoccupations. They tend to be aloof from other children with no social understanding of their actions. When they enter adulthood, they would have difficulty in demonstrating empathy for their peers, as well as be socially unable to relate to their peers. Some say that the disease lasts a lifetime with no immediate cures, yet the symptoms could wane over time, and early detection of the disease could help the child development in the areas wherein they need support (ibid).
Similarly, Asperger's Syndrome is a part of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Spectrum Disorders are a wide-range of developmental disabilities which includes but are is not limited to autism and other neurobiological disorders with similar characteristics and symptoms (ibid).The term 'spectrum disorders' is made in such a way that symptoms are similar with each other, and though there different combinations of such symptoms, the degree of the illnesses' severity could be on completely opposing sides. For example, two children might be diagnosed with the same neurobiological disorder, yet they might display different coping mechanisms and speeches. One might be extremely intelligent in academic works, but lacking in coordination skills in sports, whilst the other might be extremely gifted in physical activities, yet have a hard time coping with academic reports. There is a wide range of skills and abilities which could affect a child who is suffering from spectrum disorders (ibid).
The study will only focus on the autism behaviour of Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. The researcher will not include studies and references for other forms of behaviours, and is limited on the study for AS only. The researcher does not wish to find a cure for the disorder, but aims to determine how to help children with AS be able to cope properly in mainstream classrooms without compromising their ability to learn.
The research will focus on one case study of a boy with AS whom the researcher is currently working with. This boy is enrolled in a mainstream school and a mainstream classroom, both of which information will not be disclosed for the sake of keeping the boy's personality and the school's name anonymous. The researcher does not wish to make the boy and the school as inanimate objects of the study, but would rather use them as a means of gathering information for the general welfare of children with AS.
Lastly, the research will not include other documented cases of AS aside from the case study, except for references sake for the literature review. The educational instructors and practitioners in the said school will be interviewed for their opinions about the behaviour of the boy, and how he is able to cope in the mainstream school with his peers of the same age.
The final format of this paper will contain six chapters. The first chapter is for the introduction, wherein the basics of the research would be disclosed. The Introduction would also contain the research questions and objectives. This would be followed by the second chapter which is the literature review which will inform the readers of what are articulately known today about the topic. All literatures which will be reviewed will be followed by the researcher's narratives, explanations and opinions about them about the information they contain.
There would be a confidentiality agreement between the participants of the case study, interviews, and other participants in the study. Before the start of the case study, the researcher will ask for the permission of parents and caregivers of the peers and classmates of the boy with AS. These caregivers and parents might have qualms about involving their children in such a study, but there could also be those who would willingly give their children the chance to be involved in such a complex study which could help children with AS in the future.
After gaining the permission of the caregivers of children, the researcher will then set up the period of case study for the child with AS, and his educational providers and instructors. The researcher would establish the environment and basics of the case study, and will prepare all the needed materials to create a holistic environment. Finally, the researcher would give all educational instructors and participants their own forms for confidentiality agreement. They would be assured that their personal information will not be disclosed to any third party, and all results of the study would be purely academic.
3.8 Data Collection Methods
Both primary and secondary data methodologies would be utilized in this research. The following would be the sources of data and information:
3.8.1 Primary Data
All the primary data would be gathered from the primary sources of information of the researcher. These methodologies would be comprised of the case study, observation, and interviews with concerned individuals such as primary caregivers, parents, peers, and teachers of the child. They will be asked and gauged according to their proximity with the topic, as well as their experiences in coordinating with the child with AS.
The primary data will also be taken from the researcher's observation of the participants. These observations would be able to say a lot about the details of the research such as the credibility of their narratives and experiences. They will be asked about their experiences, and the researcher would be able to see how accurate their responses are based on their facial expressions and reasoning.
3.8.2 Secondary Data
The secondary data would be derived from the contextual analysis to be done by the researcher. The researcher would perform a thorough and diverse investigation of the topic about recently published materials and articles for the line of research. The author would also indicate which among the materials are the most relevant to the study.
The researcher would be an explanatory research with the interpretative approach which would be used to explain how the boy is coping up in a mainstream situation, as well as accurately interpret the situations and consequences of what the case study. After thoroughly explaining the research's methodologies, the researcher have clarified the following:
Case study - the case study would be used in order to observe the child from his natural environment and how he is coping in a mainstream classroom for normal children. By having the case study, the researcher would be able to actively comprehend how practitioners could provide the child with adequate care for his situation.
Observation - the researcher would use the power of observation, such as observation sheets and narratives which would be compiled and scrutinized upon completion of the materials and data.
Interviews - people with close ties to the child would be interviewed for their intervention and advices about the topic, as well as how the child copes in an everyday setting.
Contextual analysis - by using this research method, the researcher would be able to understand how other experienced individuals have dealt with the research topic.
These methods would help the research determine how working in a mainstream classroom will support a child with Asperger's Syndrome. He will also be gauged based on his ability to cope with other children who do not have neurobehavioral disorder, and how his learning in the classroom impacts the learning of other people. The research's aims would be closely tied with the research methodologies.
The data would be analyzed in a timely and accurate manner. The researcher would only focus on one child with Asperger's Syndrome, and focus on how he is coping and what are his needs in a mainstream environment. Doing such will keep the research accurate and valid. The narratives of other involved people would be judged according to their reactions and based on the observation, which would be based on how they react and answer questions. With the researcher asking in such close proximity, there would be little room for untruthful narratives.