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Asperger's syndrome is a neurological disorder included in the spectrum of autism disorders. The Centers for Disease Control now states that ASD may affect as many as one in 150 births (CDCï¼Œ2007). The Syndrome became well known since Lorna Wing published an account of 34 cases of the disorder in children (Gillbergï¼Œ2002). Unfortunately, since the 1990s, the United States has been experiencing a dramatic increase in the numbers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The etiology of autism is not known, current research is focusing on several factors including a genetic predisposition, neurological dysfunctions and environmental toxins (Heflin & Alaimo, 2007).
In this article critique, we will focus on the teaching methods which combined with the principles of inclusive education and apply it in to the classroom settings.
In this essay, the model is focusing on the 13 year-old child named Errol who has Asperger's syndrome. Both expressive and receptive communications are displayed by students with Asperger's impairment. Their language may be in an extensive vocabulary and odd phrases and words are used in their communication. Their enthusiasm regarding topics of interest may lead to overly talkative encounters which others can find tedious (Attwood, 1998). Moreover, impairments may extend to nonverbal communication and include odd body postures, limited use of gestures, and limited eye contact (Heflin and Alaimo, 2007). They are inflexible in many ways. They are used to the routines they repeat everyday life. For example, they would use calendars to memorize the activities they should do in the morning. Their life seems to be seen as unchangeable without any flexible improvements.
Diane Kennedy ( 2002) writes that the years from twelve to seventeen are "the saddest and most difficult time" for people with Asperger Syndrome. This is not true of every teen with Asperger's Syndrome. Socialization difficulties may be the distinguishing trademark of Asperger's Syndrome. While typically developing children eagerly interact with their parents and peers, children with AS may prefer to be alone and fail to engage others (Heflin and Alaimo, 2007). A teen with AS may not fully understand why the crowd goes crazy when the football team makes the winning touchdown. They will hear the cheering and see the happy faces but will not experience the same feelings of overwhelming joy. They lack "social contagion," the ability to get caught up in the emotions (whether good or bad) of others.
In Church(2000) research study, in Middle school, kids are reported dramatic improvements in social abilities but they still lack of social skills . But they began to realize their effect and contribution to the conversation and interpersonal relationship.
Application to the classroom teaching
Within this difficulty of social skills, the teacher should pay more attention on the classroom climate and collaborative teaching methods to facilitate the inclusive teaching. According to the M2ECCA Framework (2005), it mentioned about 6 elements which consists of the framework figure. In this framework, the collaboration and the environment of classroom become 2 independent issues to the inclusive teaching. To create a successful standard-based inclusive classroom, teacher should make concerns of physical, organizational, and social environmental factors. Behavior-management strategies play an important role in every classroom. This feature becomes much more obvious in a class which contains children with Asperger's Syndrome. They are sensitive to the environment, and easy to be irritated by the outside stimulations. In Friend and Bursuck(2009), it also list the similar constitution of a inclusive classroom in the overview of classroom environment as classroom management, physical organization, classroom routine, classroom climate, behavior management and use of time.
Students with Asperger Syndrome often need additional time to complete assignments compare with normal students, to gather materials, and to orient themselves during transitions. Provide this time or modify requirements so they can fit in the time allotted and match the student's pace. Avoid rushing a child with Asperger Syndrome, as this typically results in the child shutting down. When time constraints are added to an already stressful day, the student can become overwhelmed and immobilized.
Classroom management is challenging in inclusive teaching settings. Any changesâ€•unexpected changes, in particularâ€•can increase anxiety in a student with Asperger Syndrome. Students with Asperger Syndrome benefit from organization and structure . These routine work filled in their everyday life and make them feel secure. The teacher who has invested in providing an organized and structured environment for the student will not only provide a better learning environment, but also feel more relaxed and competent. Prepare the child for changes by discussing them in advance, over-viewing a social narrative on the change, or showing a picture of the change. The environment can also be managed by incorporating student preferences that may serve to decrease his or her stress (Ministry of Education, 2000). Most of people with Aspergers Syndrome are visual, concrete learners and users. When working with them, providing visuals and less abstract verbals will promote understanding. For example, as a high school teacher, we may have a student complete a visual diagram and picture that helps him to see a timetable for the assignment submission process
Simplify language concise and simple, and speak at a slow, deliberate speed. Do not expect a student with Asperger Syndrome to "read between the lines," understand abstract concepts like sarcasm, or know what you mean by using facial expression only. Be specific when providing instructions. Ensure that the child with Asperger's Syndrome knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
Being collaborative to the other staff is another way to improve the teaching efficiency . With limited knowledge of this disorder, high school and postsecondary teachers, and university faculty and staff may be faced with a distinct disadvantage in their efforts to address the needs of this population (Kennedy,D.,2002). To ensure success of students with AS, educational professionals must have a thorough understanding of Asperger's Syndrome and reflect on how their practice can best meet the needs of these individuals.
To monitor the progress of all the students in class is a huge and challenging work. In mainstream class, teacher must separate his attention not only on the normal kids but also keep his eye on the child who has AS. One strategy for educators could be to assign a "buddy" or safe student in the classroom. In this way, the student with Asperger Syndrome would have a friend to listen to them and to report any potential conflicts with other students. Also, educators should routinely check in with the student with Asperger Syndrome and/or the parents to ensure the comfort of the student in the classroom. In this way, the student could also try to practice his social skills through the communication with the mentor student. The final goal for the inclusive education is to help the students to get well used to the mainstream society. Teacher has responsibility to guide the mentor students the way how they deal with the students with Asperger's Syndrome. A behavioral plan should be made to record the progress of the students no matter on interpersonal communication skills or academic assistance.
Preparing for the teaching plan for these students under the general education system is a process that can be both difficult and rewarding. While playing critical roles, adolescents, parents, and high school and college personnel are all affected by this process. Because so many individuals are required to interact to ensure the success of college admission, both professionals and students need to be prepared both personally and professionally. Moreover, the teaching plan should cover all the students not only to these students with special needs. All the kids are expected to enter colleges including universities or professional colleges. Difficulties with communication and socialization, combined with problems and planning in any aspect of this process may discourage a student from the college application process and perhaps risk hindering their overall success. The college admission process for both the "typical" student and the student with AS enables them to learn from challenging situations thereby converting potential roadblocks into personal strengths, new possibilities and a greater relation to lifelong success.
OH&S (1997) is a critical topic that should be a part of every school's overall safety philosophy. OH&S specifically in the school environment, including classrooms, staff rooms, science labs other facilities in the school environment. Potentially hazardous substances are identified and tips are given on safe storage, manual handling and how to prevent slips, trips and falls (OH&S Act, 1997). Correct OH&S producers are demonstrated to ensure that all viewers will gain a clear and thorough understanding of the requirements of an effect OH&S program and procedures when accidents happen. This is an essential resource for every school and teaching institution in Australia and will act as an excellent tool to assist in raising staff awareness.
How to create a successful classroom environment is always the issue that teachers concern about. Teaching strategies and inclusive theory research are always the top topics for the fellow of inclusive education. Teaching kids with the AS needs enormous efforts and patience. It is essential for them to make improvements through the practice of the social skills no matter with teachers or students. They have to have interactions with the outside world no matter how well they are protected by the school with special supports or family with extra care. What we do to help them is to build the environment and skills that could guarantee them to live in the society independently.