“People with autism may not be able to speak or respond to their name, but they can still hear your words and feel your kindness.” They need to be accepted, understood and needed because autism is not a disability, it is another skill. -Stuart Duncan
World Autism Awareness Day is from the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, more so if an attempt to establish a fund of discrimination against people with autism. This day is marked on April 2 and aims to undertake the enterprise by regulating the autism spectrum and the use of their autistic life. It is estimated that 1% of the global population is autistic.
Many parents and teachers have questions about autism and education. Creating an environment that is conducive for learning should be approached on an individual basis but many standard instruction techniques apply to a number of different children. From teaching strategies for children with autism can benefit the entire classroom in many cases. Many children on the autism spectrum have average or above average intelligence. The ability to take in information may not be lacking but the student may lack the ability to communicate that he comprehends the concepts. Learning style is a factor to consider and while many students on the spectrum may tend to be visual learners, some may learn by doing (kinesthetic learners). One critical aspect to consider when teaching a student with autism is the challenges with processing information.
Each youth on the autism spectrum has quite different needs, there is no one-size-fits-all policy for assisting students with autism.
However, there are some basic things that school leaders can consider in the strategic plan and vision of their school to enable a school inclusion for children in the autism spectrum, considering the Albanian Standards for School Management. Leaders can consider and address in the medium- and long-term plan of the school, areas such as the direction of partnerships with parents and the wider community and the direction of transformational changes in the context of the Albanian legal context related to support for students, protection of rights of the child and ethical and integrity behavior.
Teachers, on the other hand, can make their time in school spend normally, taking advice from the independent source of news and views ‘’Conversation’’:
- Provide a home base.
A home base is a place in the school where the student can go to plan or review the day’s events, escape the stress of the classroom, prevent a meltdown, or regain control if a meltdown has occurred. The location is not important, but it is essential that the home base is viewed as a positive environment. It is not a “naughty corner”.
- Minimize handwriting requirements.
Many students with autism have difficulty with handwriting, and with listening and writing at the same time, due to motor problems. If writing is problematic for the student, don’t force them to do it. If handwriting itself is not being tested, another mode should be used.
- Get organised
Lack of organisation often prevents students with high-functioning autism from demonstrating their full competence. It is not uncommon to hear of students who have completed an assignment but weren’t able to find it to hand it in on time.
- Create a program that works for them.
This requires creating a balance between what they have to achieve academically, and their levels of stress and anxiety. Programs have to have a predictable structure to avoid anxiety about something the student wasn’t prepared for, and so students know they can achieve what their teacher and parents are expecting them to do.
- Give them a reason to come to school.
Teachers need to put in greater effort to make school relevant for students with high-functioning autism, as they think differently to the majority of other kids. Incorporating special interests into the curriculum is often key to these students wanting to attend school, engage and participate. Students with high functioning autism often develop special interests that become much more than a hobby, but a way of life, so this is a great way to get them interested in school. Focusing on a student’s strengths and interests can increase confidence and engagement, especially when the student has other skill areas that need to be addressed.
Students should gradually be taught to assume responsibility for requesting and monitoring the things they need to prepare for adulthood. It’s here they will ultimately be responsible for structuring their own environment for success.
A message from a parent and a teacher at the same time of a child with autism:
“Today we all talk about inclusion in education, we show 2-3 cases (we even boast that we call them success cases) some parents come out and tell their stories, as different in form, so similar in content, (I among the first parents, that I made public the story of my son’s coexistence with autism), but we forget that the category of children and young people with autism, requires much more than that. Let’s start with ourselves. Each teacher, must understand that before to give scientific knowledge, to enable his / her students to do what they do or not to do, to make the students feel better in the classroom and above all to give them a lot of love. strong to be near these individuals, with so many needs but also with so much pleasure. To become aware, to alleviate a mother’s pain a little, to smile a little on her face and to make her understand: You are not alone! Your son / daughter is not alone! Let us all be together, because these individuals with autism teach us how to be better, more honest and above all more humane! Let their autism be the mirror where every member of the education community sees themselves and analyzes it!
Daniela Bardhaj, Intern R&D, Shkolla e Drejtorëve
Sonila Dubare, Menaxhere për Hulumtim dhe Zhvillim, Shkolla e Drejtorëve
Blerina Lala, Nën-drejtoreshë e shkollës “Myslym Keta”, Pjesëmarrëse e Programit të Trajnimit të Detyrueshëm për Drejtuesit e IAP, Brezi i Parë, Shkolla e Drejtorëve