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Sit and get

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The effectiveness of inclusion for students with autism

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Sit and get

  1. 1. Position Paper 3 – Shuna Laura Flores June 26, 2010 Sit and Get? – Inclusion of Students with Autism. In 1997 the IDEA amendments begin to raise questions of where special education students should be educated. Many research studies have concluded that most learning disabled students achieve higher academic progress when they are included in general education classrooms (Byrnes, 2009, Issue 13). The NCLB Act is placing increasing pressure on educational systems by implementing accountability measures through “high stakes” test results of the students and thus requiring the schools to show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). By the year 2014, only 1% of school populations will be exempt from taking “high stakes” tests reserving exemptions for only the most severe disabilities such as autism, traumatic brain injury, etc. (Byrnes, 2009, p.173). There is a strong trend sweeping through our school systems to reduce the number of students assigned to special educations programs. Alternatives to the current structures of education, such as the School-wide Applications Models (SAM) where all students are educated in general education classrooms (even if they are not at the same academic levels as their peers), are being piloted across the country (Byrnes, 2009, pp. 272-280). Response to Intervention (RTI) has become a major focus when addressing the reauthorization of IDEA 2004. Students are educated in 3 tiers or levels of intensity to avoid unwarranted special education referrals and over identification of minority populations in special education (Byrnes, 2009, Issue 7). These new models for education are some of the factors that may be influencing school systems to move toward inclusion of special education students in the general classroom.
  2. 2. Position Paper 3 – Shuna Laura Flores June 26, 2010 Autistic students have not missed this wave of inclusion sweeping through our schools. Many autistic students are being “educated” in general education classroom with the company of a full time aid (Harding, 2009). Centers for Disease Control reports 1 in 150 students have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), (Leach & Duffy, 2009). Teachers and school systems have been inundated with the influx of this disability for the past 15 years. It is estimated that there has been an increase from 1 in ten thousand people identified with this disorder in the late 1980‟s to the current statistic of 1 in 150 students in 2007(William, 2010). “Autism is a disorder characterized by impairments and deficits in communication and social interaction skills” (Kalyva & Avramidis, 2005). Trying to communicate with and include a student with autism in the general classroom and in daily life may feel as though one is communicating with an alien from another planet. Behaviors of autistic students can become erratic, bizarre and confusing to those who do not have the disorder. Even parents of autistic children find they are confused and unable to understand their autistic children. The new educational reforms in conjuction with the increase of autistic students included in the classroom “…many pressures emerge that need to be reconciled. Teachers my feel ill-equipped to manage both the behavior of the disabled student as well as the reactions and interactions of the rest of the class while also delivering quality instruction” (Harding, 2009). “Special education teachers, general education teachers and paraprofessionals all report feelings of inadequacy with regard to training to meet the needs of students with disabilities” (Harding, 2009). Many autistic students have been placed in general education classrooms with untrained staff in the hopes that the student will learn appropriate social behaviors and gain academic knowledge through osmosis, otherwise known as “sit and get”(Leach & Duffy, 2009). This approach has been unsuccessful and causes more disruption to the classroom without helping any of the students (Yainni-Coudurier et al, 2008).
  3. 3. Position Paper 3 – Shuna Laura Flores June 26, 2010 Without specialized training when including autistic students in general education population seems to be a recipe for disaster. Young autistic students need at least 25 hours a week of specialized instruction in order to acquire the social skills necessary to relate to their “typical” peers. Even with the intensive training, persons with autism continue to display inappropriate behaviors on a regular basis (Yainni-Coudurier et al, 2008). In the past decade many programs have been developed to enable autistic students to learn socialization and communication skills so that they can function in a regular education classroom. Adaptive technology in the form of social stories, picture symbols, visual schedules and environmental arrangements have all been found to be effective for facilitating communication skills for these special students (Leach & Duffy, 2009). Preventative strategies such as clearly stated behavioral and social expectations help minimize maladaptive behaviors and highly structured behavior intervention programs help teach cause/effect relationships and positive/negative consequences of actions (Leach & Duffy, 2009). Adapting instructional presentations to include “Big Ideas” and using graphic organizers have both been helpful in teaching many students with learning disabilities (Leach & Duffy, 2009). It is “vital to provide general education teachers with the information and support they must have to be able to meet the needs of these students in their classrooms” (Leach & Duffy, 2009). The use of “typical” students in the classroom as models and peer tutors can be extremely beneficial for students with learning disabilities (Kaylva & Avaramidis, 2005). A small study was conducted with preschool autistic students using peers to teach socialization. The groups met for 30 minute sessions, once a week, for twelve weeks. The groups consisted of one autistic child and 5 “typical” peers. The researchers set up social settings and interactions for the autistic children to practice appropriate interaction. The study showed an increase on the number of
  4. 4. Position Paper 3 – Shuna Laura Flores June 26, 2010 positive social interactions and minimizing maladaptive behaviors. It is important to note that these students had also participated in extensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs for a period of at least 10 months prior to this study. (ABA is an intensive program specifically designed to break down tasks into their various elements and, through repetition and reward, shape behaviors for autistic persons.) Due to the intensive training, structured socialization was very helpful to these students (Leach & Duffy, 2009). General education teachers are experiencing greater numbers of students with disabilities of all kinds in their classrooms. It appears that some of the newer models for education resemble the old fashion school house with students working on many different things simultaneously. Will the majority of students currently in special education be in general education classrooms have specialized programs and the minority of students moving uniformly as possible through the curriculum (Byrnes, 2009, p. 272). One approach to educational reform recommends that learning disabled students be pulled out of their primary class to work with other general and special education students working on similar academic issues. Will that mean 8th graders will be working with 5th graders? What will the new programs with the majority of students in general education classrooms look like? There are still many issues and unanswered questions to be worked out in our educational system. Successfully including autistic students in the general classroom seems to be a goal that can be accomplished, but not without a great deal of intervention and support.
  5. 5. Position Paper 3 – Shuna Laura Flores June 26, 2010 References: Byrnes, M.A. (2009) Issue 3: Is Eliminating Minority Overrepresentation Beyond the Scope of Public School? In L. Loeppke, F. Shilling, & J. Benedict (4th Eds.) Taking Sides. Clashing Views in Education (Issue 7 & 13,pp.173, 272-280). New York, NY: McGrawHill. Harding, S. (2009). Successful Inclusion Models for Students with Disabilities Require Strong Site Leadership: Autism and Behavioral Disorders Create Many Challenges for the Learning Environment. International Journal of Learning, 16(3), 91-103. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. http://search.ebscohost .com /login.aspx?direct =true&AuthType=ip,cookie,url,uid&db= ehh&AN=43756871 &site=ehost-live Kalyva, E. & Avramidis, E.(2005). Improving Communication Between Children with Autism and their Peers Through the „Circle of Friends‟: A Small-scale Intervention. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 18, 253-261. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3148.2005.00232.x Leach, D., & Duffy, M. (2009). Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Inclusive Settings. Intervention in School & Clinic, 45(1), 31-37. doi:10.1177/1053451209338395. Retrieved from: http://search.ebscohost.com /login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,url,uid&db =20h&AN=43777938 &site=ehost-live Yianni-Coudurier, C., Darrou, C., Lenoir, P., Verrecchia, B., Assouline, B., Ledesert, B., et al. (2008). What Clinical Characteristics of Children with Autism Influence their Inclusion in Regular Classrooms?. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 52(10), 855-863. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2008.01100.x. Retrieved from: http://search .ebscohost. com/login.aspx?direct= true&AuthType =ip,cookie,url,uid&db=ehh&AN= 34643631&site=ehost-live William, A. (2010, June). Autism Statistics Information. Ezine Articles. Retrieved from: http://ezinearticles.com/?Autism-Statistics-Information&id=1665735

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