Educating the Exceptional Learner
This essay investigates the literature available on educating a child with autism. Autism is a neural disorder that manifests as poor social interaction and impaired communication. Usually, individuals with this condition exhibit repetitive and restricted behavior, as the disorder particularly affects the processing of information in the brain.
Basically, it alters the manner in which nerves form synapses and subsequently organize the relayed information. The student therefore, understands and reacts to situations differently from what a normal student would do. In fact, they often find it difficult to Converse with other people, thereby leading to the social withdrawal. The student only exhibits unusual reactions to just normal situations.
For instance, he or she may feel irritated by certain sounds or just a gentle touch. Essentially, this could make it impossible for them to connect actions with their appropriate meanings. A typical example is where a smile would mean agony rather than happiness to them. This makes it very hard for the special student to understand any communication from the teacher. It is, therefore, very important to take into consideration the special needs of such students, while coming up with a lesson plan. For example, it may be necessary to incorporate modifications that would favor the students’ learning (Bowe, 2004).
The student is10 years old and is expected to start learning to read and write. Conventionally, a student of this age should be in the fourth grade, where they are expected to have known how to communicate clearly and express their feelings appropriately. This is not the case with my special student, since he still has troubles understanding what he is being told or expressing his ideas due to this condition. At this particular age, there is often an intensive work and more concentration that is required of them in class. Besides, they should have started work independently and responsibly. However, my student still finds it very tedious to cope that he is not able to accomplish what is required of him.
The student is generally poor in reading and writing, due to the fact that he has hard time trying to make meaning out of words. The student prefers to learn using specific items, such as more attractively colored counters. Besides, reading repetitively seems to make more sense to him, especially when it is done strictly within the stipulations of a timetable. He is also not good at group work and activities that require high levels of participation, due to the fact that he expresses no emotion or understands the use of gestures to explain situations (Bowe, 2004). In view of the special needs of this student, the learning objectives at this grade should include the application of text features to produce meaning and the use of printed materials, such as flashcards and books. These would enable him to interpret the simple sentences and read materials that are found in daily encounters.
In addition, he would be able to apply some strategies of good listeners, as well as understand basic punctuations, such as capitalization and their various ses (Cortiella, 2009). In order to test the progress of the student, I would employ several assessment techniques, such as writing short structured sentences on flashcards and asking the student to read and tell the class what the sentences mean. I would also bring to class different items that are encountered in daily lives of individuals, such as packets and ask the student to read the writings on them. In addition, I would ask the students to listen as he reads a passage with short and simple sentences and ask questions, thereafter to assess, if the students were able to comprehend. In some instances, I would leave him to read a passage and later ask him to tell the class what the passage was all about in his own words. Due to the fact that the special student should not be exposed to the fright of addressing the whole class, as such, I would always be close and interested to receive the slightest communication from him.
I would particularly be keen to make the class friendly enough, so as not to intimidate the special student (Breckenridge & Vogler, 2001).Understanding the student would be the most important task in encouraging his development. This particular student, for instance, should be provided with brightly colored books with appropriate pictures, especially those that do not express any emotions. Further, observations show that such special students adjust slowly to changes of environment, and therefore, he should be given adequate time to adjust and to make change smooth and gradual (Cortiella, 2009). Reflective analysis can be done in various ways, such as questioning the student about the past activities and how he feels it should be done. This may also include seeking alternatives or other ways the activity could have been done, or viewing things from different perspectives similar to the students’ own view point and judging how they actually felt about it.
Ideally, this would take into consideration the consequences, before the actual steps are taken in trying out new ideas to see the difference they bring to the learning exercise, synthesizing ideas and being prolific in solving problems. The special student, however, should be accorded more attention during this process, since his responses may be different from the other students’ ones. He can react to the situation, rather than the question, and hence, special care should be taken in structuring the questions for him to ensure that he understands the question clearly, before he can respond. When teaching this class, some modifications proved to be very important in enhancing the learning process of the special student. For instance, incorporation of more visual learning aids would work just perfectly, since he would took keen interest on what he could see and try as much to relate it to what has been heard, thereby enhancing his learning.
In addition, the use of familiar objects for learning purposes would make the student comfortable with the surrounding (Bowe, 2004). This learning process for the special students has been proved efficient in the past, and I would prefer to emmploy the same techniques in subsequent lessons. Nonetheless, I would put some minor modifications depending on the situations at hand, since such special students are often unpredictable. The mood of the day, therefore, would set the activities to be carried out and the various learning methods to be employed for the particular day. The modifications, however, will be gradual, so as not to interfere with the adaptation of the student to the environment, which is a very long process. Structuring the general layout of the room would have to be done, in order to reduce the anxiety of the special student.
This is because, if he knows what he is supposed to do in the particular workstation, he will feel more comfortable. The teacher should also ensure that visual schedules are availed to direct the student. Besides, I would also structure how worksheets are presented by highlighting the directions and probable steps to accomplish a task or even provide how an accomplished task would look like (Cortiella, 2009). The special student often needs clearly stated expectations for a given activity, the steps that one can take to accomplish a task and a follow-up activity to assess what they are able to achieve. This, thus, calls for written rubrics and regulations that are duly dated for any assignment or a project with multiple steps.
The student should also be helped to come up with a color coding system, so as to be able to understand and keep in mind the dates a given activity is due to be handed in. A related service specialist, on the other hand, should incorporate the special needs of the student in his plans, in order to enhance the learning of the student. For instance, a student who is more affectionate towards a train would work better, if the worksheet has a picture of a train, or concepts are articulated basing on the train-related information. In some instances, peers can also be assigned to the special student, so as to avoid instances of a burnout (Bowe, 2004).Some of the most successful techniques include the “Battelle Development Inventory” that helps to determine, if indeed the child is making good progress in their transition from infancy to the level of primary grades.
Through this technique, the student’s cognitive abilities and motor activity can be assessed more appropriately. In addition, there is the “Child Behavior Checklist” that basically relies on the participation of the parents to model the children’s general behavior. According to literature, this is the best way to assess the level of the students’ social competencies, as well as their general progress. In conclusion, special students suffering from autism would be in a pole position to learn just like other students, if they are handled well and the above mentioned modifications made in their sturdy plan. It is, therefore, very important to understand the students and their conditions, and therefore, provide a more specialized approach in helping them to learn.
This would help them develop organization skills, communication skills and be able to socialize adequately.