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Autism and spina bifida are serious challenges that often prevented children from attending general schools; yet, these problems can be addressed if a teacher has the resources and skills necessary for working with such students. For a long time, it was believed that children with such disabilities should be educated at special schools; however, empirical studies indicate that these students can successfully perform in classrooms with children who have no disabilities (Guldberg 2010; Lynch & Irvine 2009).
Ted should be allowed to stay at general primary school because interaction with peers can improve the social skills of this child and because he has been able to work with non-disabled children previously. Moreover, there are exercises that are intended for children with these conditions. This paper will discuss in more detail why students like Ted should be given a chance to study in general school. Moreover, it will describe the strategies of a teacher who works with such students. Finally, this paper will explain how school administrators should assist this teacher.
There are several indicators that tell if a child with disabilities can study in a general school. In particular, educators and parents should pay attention to such factors as the severity of the condition, social skills of a child and former academic performance (O’Hare 2009, p. 261). It should be noted that Ted has to use a wheelchair due to his spina bifida. Moreover, he was diagnosed with autism.
In the past decades, educators normally advised parents to take their children to special schools; yet the situation has changed and nowadays teachers try to include such children into a general classroom (Webb, Webb, & Fults-McMurtery 2011, p, 124). Overall, there are several circumstances, which support the idea of including such children to general schools. First of all, the studies indicate that interaction with non-disabled children allows students with autism to better understand instructional requirements and learn proper behavior patterns (O’Hara 2009, p. 262).
Ted’s interaction with other students is essential for acquiring social skills that he will need in the future. Besides, one shouldn’t overlook the fact that Ted has been able to cope with the tasks given to students in general schools. Certainly, he had to take more effort than other students, but it is quite normal for children with such conditions. The fact that Ted coped with such assignments indicates he may perform well in a general classroom, even though he requires more attention from educators. Thus, despite several difficulties, there is a chance that Ted can succeed in the usual classroom.
Additionally, parent participation and support of family members are also important factors that can contribute to success. It is worth mentioning that Ted’s mother is willing to cooperate with teachers, and her participation can be of great assistance to the teacher (Gabriel & Hill 2010, p. 156). For example, she can better explain what kind of problems her son faces and how he can be better approached by a teacher. Another issue that should be taken into consideration is that Ted’s sister is very supportive of him. Sometimes, she can act as a mediator between him and other children. Overall, the support of the parents and siblings can positively affect Ted’s experiences in a general school.
Admittedly, there are several challenges that can prevent Ted from working with non-disabled children and one cannot overlook them. First, one should not forget that students with disabilities can be victimized or bullied by other students (Smith 2011, p. 13). However, such situations occur because teachers fail to explain to other students how children with autism should be treated. This risk is not the fault of a student; more likely, it can be attributed to the inefficiency of a teacher who has to prevent children from behaving in such away. A child with any disability can be exposed to such a risk if the teacher doesn’t take necessary measures. Thus, it is mostly the question of skill.
Other challenges are mostly connected to Ted’s specific conditions. It is important to remember that children with autism cannot cope with rapidly-changing learning activities. Thus, they don’t usually keep up with the rest of the class. Yet, this challenge can be overcome if a teacher develops individualized tasks for such people. In particular, these tasks should be made more structured and predictable so that Ted could understand the transitions between them (Lynch & Irvine 2009, p. 850). Apart from that, spina bifida is associated with difficulties in acquiring mathematical skills (English et al 2009, p. 28).
However, there are exercises that have been developed specifically for children with this disability, and such exercises can be incorporated into a general classroom environment. Thus, one can say that the potential challenges are mostly associated with teachers’ lack of knowledge about these conditions. The only issue that remains is school resources. Provided that this school has educational materials necessary for children with autism, and if they can devote more time to children with disabilities, Ted can be accepted into a usual classroom. Hence, the challenges that have been discussed can be overcome if a teacher has skills and resources. However, one cannot say that Ted’s conditions will definitely prevent him from learning in a traditional classroom. Thus, one can argue that Ted should be allowed to study in a general school. Admittedly, there are several risks but they can be minimized by the teacher and administration. By allowing Ted to learn with non-disabled children, educators can bring more benefits to this student.
The strategies of a teacher
At first, teachers and school administrators should understand those factors that can positively affect Ted’s experiences in the classroom. The researchers have identified several conditions that are necessary for the successful education of children with disabilities in general schools. They are as follows: 1) specialized curriculum which develops a student’s attention, memory, and behavior skills; 2) the participation of parents who should tell more about their child’s needs; 3) encouragement of other staff members and students; 4) and participation of multidisciplinary professionals such as psychologists and medical workers (Lynch & Irvine 2009, p. 850). If school administrators and teachers create such conditions for children with disabilities, they are more likely to succeed. These are the main objective that educators and parents have to achieve.
Judging from these issues, one can develop the strategies and objectives of a teacher. At first, it will be necessary to develop an individualized education plan (IEP). It has to focus on the social skills that Ted has to acquire, for instance, the ability to express confidence, approval, agreement, empathy, and so forth (Rotarori, Obiakor & Burkhardt 2008, p. 32). Furthermore, it is important to teach Ted to negotiate with other children without displaying aggression. Again, some children with autism can do that, because they sometimes cannot express their discontent by verbal means (Wagner 1999, p. 42). As it has been said before, a child with autism is more likely to acquire these skills if he or she is in contact with non-disabled students. The teacher has to promote this interaction during classes and breaks.
Additionally, the teachers have to tailor a set of exercises that are needed for such children. These exercises should develop a student’s attention, abstract thinking, logic, memory, and language comprehension (Lynch & Irvine 2009, p. 850). Yet, one should take into account that a child with autism cannot cope with exercises that alternate too rapidly. Therefore, the teacher has to give Ted more time. Thirdly, it is important to ensure that other students treat students with compassion and students. Certainly, a teacher cannot always force them to act in such away. However, she should stop any attempt to intimidate or humiliate children like Ted; otherwise, he will not feel comfortable and become more alienated from other people. If a teacher achieves these objectives, it will be much easier for Ted to study with non-disabled children.
Self-coping is another aspect of education that should not be overlooked. For instance, Ted should be taught various self-coping skills such as clean intermittent catheterization (O’Hara 2009, p 350). This skill is of great importance to children with spina bifida. It should be the responsibility of a school nurse who must be able to help children with such conditions. Secondly, Ted should be taught to avoid self-injury because it is widespread among children with autism (Hollander, Kolevzon, & Coyle 2010, p. 180). In the case study, it is not clearly stated whether Ted is prone to self-injury or not. However, such a risk has to be eliminated. These are the goals that have to be attained. They are quite achievable if teachers and school administrators have time, skills, and resources.
The support provided to the teacher
Many teachers feel reluctant to accept children with disabilities in the classroom because they don’t receive the necessary support from school administrators. This is why the principle should tell the teacher that she will be assisted by other professionals. For example, one can mention a school nurse who can teach Ted clean intermittent catheterization (O’Hara 2009, p 350). Secondly, school psychologists can also play an important role because they can help the teacher better understand the needs of such students. The principal of a school principal should explain to this teacher that she will receive the assistance that she needs.
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Additionally, she must have access to educational materials that might be necessary for teaching children like Ted. It is the duty of a school principal to ensure that she has these resources. She must also have a lesser number of children in her class so that she could better attend to Ted’s needs. This is how the school can achieve the objectives outlined in this paper.
Overall, this discussion indicates that a child with autism and spina bifida can be successfully integrated into a general school classroom. Ted should be allowed to stay in general elementary school because education with non-disabled peers can help Ted acquire various interpersonal skills. Moreover, one should take into account that this child was able to study in the usual classroom before. There are several challenges related to his conditions, but they can be overcome by developing an individualized education plan. This plan has to include various exercises that are designed for children with autism or spina bifida. Again, it is necessary to emphasize the idea that failures to integrate them into a conventional classroom can mostly be explained by poor knowledge of their disabilities and lack of resources.
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