A child with Asperger syndrome in an inclusion classroom
Brouck & Yadav (2008) observe that there are many ailments prevailing today in the lives of children and even adults which may hamper the abilities of learning in the affected people. The existent of many health disorders in children which affects their mental orientation causes stress not only to the affected but also to their families. Special education has been very helpful in providing an environment where these children get an opportunity tom learn without being exposed to psychological torture (Heward, 2013). Psychological torture often emanate from the interaction where acts of segregation causes stigma thus hindering learning by the affected groups. Asperger syndrome has become one of the notable maladies in children with exceptionalities. With special education, Teachers are trained on how to handle and educate children with exceptionalities like those having Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome falls among the most notable Pervasive Developmental Disorders thus is being widely called Autism Spectrum Disorder. In this paper, it is going to be argued that it is possible to educate children who have Asperger syndrome in education environments that are inclusive. Therefore, this paper presents a plan on how children with exceptionalities can be mentored and incorporated into a normal class. The plan centers on children who have the Asperger syndrome.
The Asperger’s syndrome: an overview
According to Attwood (1999) Asperger syndrome has vey close relations with autism. In fact, it is argued to be the milder case that manifests towards the end of autistic spectrum. It is mainly characterized by lapses in social and communication skills. This condition is hardly identifiable in the early stages of childhood. Many children with the condition rarely receive diagnosis for this case till the post- puberty or adulthood stage. Often, the affected recognize the differences they have and also the times when they require support to help them lead an independent life. This conditioned different from other disorders occurring in the autistic spectrum as its early developmental stages do not portray abnormal signs. Language delay does not present in the early development of this health conditions. However, research has reviled that people with the Asperger syndrome can develop disabilities in learning. Therefore, these people can be categorized as a special group. This is an indicator of the need for special care for children who have this medical condition. They have to be taken care of by people who are well trained in handling children with special cases (Attwood, 1999).
A direct cause of Asperger’s syndrome has not been singled out. However, many specialists concur on the fact that this ailment has some aspects of heredity and thus can be inherited. The number and intensity of this ailment varies from one individual to the other. Other external factors can aggravate this health condition. They include insomnia, poverty, drug and substance abuse, discrimination, child abuse and trauma (Attwood, 1999).
Health defects associated with Asperger syndrome
Asperger syndrome is accompanied by many other health conditions. This is referred to as comorbidity. However, such cases are limited as research has reviled that these cases happen in approximately 25 percent of the total reported cases. Recent research of this ailment in children has shown that children with normal IQs rarely develop medical conditions that come with the Asperger syndrome (Stoddart, 2005).
Several revelations were made in study that was conducted on children having the Asperger’s syndrome concerning other health defects that may impair with education of these children. Approximately seventy percent of children with the ailment have depression and anxiety. This resonates from the recognition of differences by these children. About 80 percent of the cases have obsessive-compulsive disorders. About 15 percent of the cases portray symptoms likened to tic-related disorders. In other words, children with Asperger’s syndrome show a couple of psychiatric disorders. They are more vulnerable to psychologically generated medical conditions impeding their abilities to learn. Therefore these children can easily develop maladaptive behavior which calls for their assistance as they may not be able to control the maladaptive character (Stoddart, 2005).
Intellectual disabilities result from the maladaptive behaviors which emanate from health conditions that are cased by Asperger syndrome. These include epilepsy, genetic disorders, and visual as well as hearing defects. Mental retardation happens in approximately 70percent of the reported cases of Asperger’s syndrome. These include Dyscalculia which is a disability in learning math and Dyslexia which is disability in reading where letters are transposed. There are also other learning disabilities that are non-verbal in nature (Docter & Naqvi, 2010).
The necessary steps to incorporate a child with Asperger syndrome in an inclusive education class
Planning in education is a continuous process which involves the singling out of a specific problem prevailing in the education department. As mentioned earlier, the cases of Asperger’s syndrome have been on the rise according to reports being released in the education and health sectors. Therefore, this is a known case to specialists in the education sector especially so those situated in the special education sector. These steps take into consideration CEC which is an instructional planning model used in planning in special education. It also adheres to CEC standard 10 which is a model of planning in special education portfolio highlighting how collaboration can be done (Docter & Naqvi, 2010).
Therefore, the first step in this plan will be to raise the awareness and understanding levels of teachers of the Asperger Syndrome. Research has shown that a gap exists between the number of people who have heard about this health condition and the people who truly understand the manifestation ah how to deal with the case. This is true even of the education sector itself where we have specialists dealing with the real case scenarios of Asperger’s syndrome. Therefore, an understanding of the case has to be made in the general learning environment of the children who have the Asperger’s syndrome. This awareness will be crated amongst teachers who often deal directly with the children having the disease or condition as well as families from where these children originate. This will be done by the virtue of availing as much information as possible to both the teachers and the families. The information about all the little details of Asperger syndrome will help in understanding the condition itself. This will then lead to the understanding of the behavior related to the condition thence the understanding of the children who have the condition. This will then open into the understanding of the needs of children having the ailment. To be precise, the first step will totally open up into the Asperger’s syndrome; helping in understanding the causes and effects of the diseases. The level of understanding of the condition has to be enhanced. As these children will need to be incorporated in normal education classes; all the teachers must have a clue of their character and how to handle them. All these will come in the learning process – during the creation of awareness (Docter & Naqvi, 2010).
The impairments of medical conditions resulting from the Asperger’s syndrome must be understood by all the stakeholders and more so the teaching fraternity. The Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by a number of ailments that have been mentioned in the beginning of this essay. Each of the ailments has its peculiar affected on the learning ability of the infected child. Thus, it is essential for teachers to know and understand all the ailments related to Asperger syndrome. This is a precursor to the right and professional response to the learning needs of children who are suffering from the impairments especially so in collective classrooms. Training will center more on the emotional as well as the social impairments likely to be depicted by the new child who is having the Asperger’s syndrome. These are often the first signs to be shown by people who are suffering from the ailment and will most probably be presented by the new child. This does not leave out the learning of other impairments resulting from the syndrome. These include lingual and cognitive abilities’ impairment. Socio-emotional impairments strongly impact on the development of other impairments. This is why they have to be given priority. They are thus considered to be the major impediments to the leaners as they wok on maintaining an inclusive environment in classrooms (Riddell, 2009).
According to the Virginia Council for Exceptional Children (2012) the inclusive education class is composed of students who do not have impairments. Introducing a child in such a class is a difficult exercise. The full incorporation of a child suffering from Asperger syndrome will be determined not only by the teachers but also the reception and acceptance by the members of the class. This takes us back to the aspect of training the teachers on the condition as they will be required to prepare the students prior to introducing the new student with special needs. This forms the second step (Docter & Naqvi, 2010).
The success of this process will be pegged more on this step as the other students will form the immediate environment to the new student. The students will be the ones to accommodate the learner in their environment or rather provide a conducive environment for adaptability of the new child with exceptions. Here the main principles in the social model of disability will need to be applied in the training of the main class to be accommodative to children with disability. This model has many principles which can act as a basis on which a tolerant and favorable school or class environment that is accommodative of people with disabilities. Such an environment will by effect be receptive to the child who is suffering from Asperger syndrome. Such impairments must be accepted with the other learners. However, the achievement of such and environment needs psychological preparedness from many stakeholders. This environment cannot be formed in isolation, its cultivation often emanate from the society itself. The parents have to be trained to accept these children from their families and by effect training their children on accepting and accommodating children with exceptions. Therefore, a collaborative working relationship will be formed between the schools, education specialists; special education and families forming up the school or schooling environment (Docter & Naqvi, 2010).
Community agencies will also be involved in cultivating the environment as they have a huge influence in altering the course of events in the community. This does not aim to provide a sympathetic environment but an understanding environment which will be favorable for the inclusion of students having the Asperger syndrome. The environment has to be supportive and advocate for people who have impairments. Two environments prevail in the case of incorporating a child who has the Asperger syndrome in a normal classroom. The first environment is the classroom setting which will be the most immediate environment to the child. The second environment is quite expansive; the school. Special educators will help the teachers and the community to on laws that govern the handling of people with exceptions and how to effectively implement the laws. Collaborative working helps in fostering a common understanding amongst all parties that have to work on bringing about a school environment that will sustain the ailing child (Zager, Wehmeyer & Simpson, 2012).
After the creation of a common understanding has between and among all the stakeholders, it is important to come up with guidelines that will help enforcing the agreements. The guidelines have to be developed for different groups: the teachers, the learners and the community. This resonates from the facts that these groups have the specific roles that they will play in crating and sustain an inclusive environment for the new child with exceptions. Of agency and importance are the guidelines for the teachers and the learners who will be forming the inclusive classroom. Aspects of inclusion will be clearly outlined in the guidelines (Stoddart, 2005).
The interests of the learner will also be given attention. Although there is a rise in the momentum for inclusion of children with impairments in regular education classrooms, the feelings of these children are not often given priority. Thus, in the case under discussion, the child with Asperger syndrome will have to be prepared for inclusion in a normal education classroom. The readiness and acceptance of the child to join the normal classrooms from the special schools can pace up and easily sustain the process and the act of inclusion. This is a difficult exercise which needs reals specialists to prepare the child for the new environment. The learner has to be helped to develop interest of moving from the special class to the inclusive class. The child has to learn the characters of the learners in the normal education class. A common learning environment comes as a result of harmonizing the behavior of the two groups of the students; the normal learners and the learner with special expectations. Educations and more specifically the concept of learning is a complicated concept. Learning can still be segregated if the interests of the interest of the two groups are not harmonized. Harmonization means maximizing on the similarities of these learners even though they might be very minimal. Help and support of the learner with the least characteristic of learning will thus be highly addressed (Heward, 2013).
Special education has aided in providing a leaning environment for children with exceptions in the society. Combining children with exceptions in normal or inclusive education classes is daunting task. It requires a lot of planning. In the planning, the aspect of training has to center on the knowledge of the kind of ailment of the child to be included in the normal class. This planning involves the engagement of many stakeholders including specialists in special education, teachers, learners and the general community.
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