Communication and social participation is paramount for all students. It is essential to put the needs of students with special educational needs and intellectual disabilities into consideration, when formulating education programs because they need to also gain academic and life skills. An array of aspects need to be considered in regard to the education of students and children with special needs. The all-inclusive education program is a good idea, but elements in relation to its success need to be scrutinized. These issues include, the teachers’ attitudes, experiences, and skills. Other methods regarding teaching communication to children with autism are also explored.
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Communication is key when teaching, education needs of children with special needs and are intellectually challenged can be difficult especially with educators who have not embraced positivity towards it. This comes as a drawback because not much will be achieved in terms of the set goals and objectives of the education system. When it comes to the inclusive policy, its success depends much on the attitudes showcased by the teachers. For instance children with special intellectual and educational needs, have to be integrated and included in the main school curriculum with inclusion in the mainstream schooling, the success of these children depend on the attitudes portrayed by the educators. In as much as the teachers’ attitudes go a long way in ensuring success of the inclusion program of children with special needs, there are an array of different factors that go hand in hand with the development of these attitudes. These attitudes are fueled by the severity of the intellectual and education needs of the child and student.
Communication is one of the key essential aspects of people’s daily lives. It has many components involved in it in the sense that sometimes its exact definition can be difficult to pin point. There are core factors to consider that remain the main defining meaning of communication which is, the exchange of information between two people. The information comes in the form of a message, feelings as well as thoughts. In as much as we perceive communication as normal because of its observation every day, it by far much complex than its simple definition. When teaching communication, the educators need to break it down further than just the exchange of ideas. It is further broken down for better understanding the essential components.
Communication encompasses both expressive and receptive aspects, whereby, one person has to express their thoughts in order for another person to take it in and understand it. This paper will discuss the aspects involved in teaching communication skills to children and students with autism, special educational and intellectual needs.
Aspects of Teaching Communication to Students with Special Education Needs
When it comes to students with special needs the teacher needs to be very keen in teaching communication as it the most essential to students both in school and in the real world. There are key motivations that involve the teaching of students with intellectual disabilities, educators just like any other teacher or tutor doo have specialization. This specialization is what enables them to tackle the issues that arise when it comes to dealing the students having special needs. As explained by Avramidis and Norwich (2002), the acceptance of the inclusion principle when it comes to students with special needs is deterred by some factors about the teachers. Avramidis and Norwich go ahead to denote that in some circumstances the inclusion program is assumed to be successful yet in the real sense it depends on the positive attitudes portrayed by the tutors.
The support of De Boer, Pijl &Minnaert (2010), is evident when they further give a clear explanation, in regard to the important role the educators’ play, when it comes to the inclusion education program especially with the case of special students with intellectual disabilities. De Boer gives more clarity on the great impact a positive attitude of the teachers is when it comes to the overall success of the all-inclusive education focusing on the educational needs of special students. Attitude is everything when it comes to the realization of good results, in as much as it is so in the business world it does apply very much in the education sector.
Students and children are influenced positively and learn faster through their efforts to embrace the school curriculum by a positive attitude portrayed by their educators. Positivity goes beyond the four walls of a classroom as well as school surroundings and overflows into their lives through social participation in other aspects of their lives.
Educational availability aspects goes a long way to ensure success of eth inclusive program, these include human and physical support (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002). For example, when at the work place it is essential to have departments with managers and machinery to ease work and promote efficiency. This also applies in the instance of educators with more focus on those that deal and teach children with special needs. In school availability of staff, and teaching aids go a long way in easing the tutors work. On another front, educational facilities too are essential when dealing with these set of students. Having teaching aids as earlier stated help in easing the workload for the teacher and at the same time makes learning easier and fun for the students, in the end both benefit.
In the teaching career, it is essential to undergo training after learning in class, it is to enhance one’s skills in their specialized fields. It also applies in the different fields that people pursue in life like engineering, communication, medicine among others. In as much as most researchers like Avramidis, Norwich, De Boer, Pijl &Minnaert focus more on the attitude portrayed by the teachers in the case of students with special educational needs, Mechling, 2007 goes ahead to dig deeper and find out more regarding the development of these attitudes by the tutors. Among the aspects that result in the display of attitudes by educators are training and experience. Teachers dealing with children with special needs ought to be well trained for them to be versed with dealing with the different cases that appertain students with special educational and intellectual needs.
With time comes experience, educators’ attitudes are also influenced by this factor. The more time a teacher takes to deal with children with special needs the more positive their attitude is developed as they get to see these students develop and learn. Experience also comes with gaining skills especially on how to handle each student’s special needs. Mechling also concurs that, the type of disability showcased by the pupils and children with special needs tends to affect the views of educators with regard to the all-inclusive educational program rolled out in the mainstream schools.
Children go through developmental stages as they progress in time and in the process end up mastering new communication as well as life skills that make it easy to pass on a message. Teaching children with special needs is not only the teachers’ role rather even parents of these children and students have a duty to par take in their learning, and help out in the teaching of the students and children with special needs (Koster et al, 2010). Knowing and understanding a child with special and educational needs, as well as becoming familiar with their developmental stages helps the parents make plans for their future. The patterns of development among children with autism is not even despite this drawback, they have a strength in nonverbal skills in regard to communication. It is essential to match all learning activities with a student’s current developmental level as research proves that this aspect is most successful.
Communication needs a set of skills in order for it to be meaningful. These skillsets are what students need to learn most considering communication is broad. For instance, a student may know how to express themselves but lack the ability to formulate a response. Similarly another student may be able to express their ideas but has a shortcoming in fully comprehending what is said to them. Students with special and educational needs are not limited to just spoken and written communication, because communication in itself is broad (Bashir, & Hook, 2009).
Messages and information are passed across through the use body postures, tonal variations, gestures, one’s personal behavior as well as expressions of the face. Effective communication makes use of both verbal together with non-verbal aspects, mastering all the elements therein is important for students with the help of teachers. Children with special needs vary in their disabilities, ranging from moderate to severe. In their special way, they can still grasp a few lessons taught to them.
In as much as most people use the common combination of verbal and nonverbal language, there is also the use of sign language among students with special educational needs. Sign language is used by students to enhance the spoken language to ease the process of communication. In addition to the use of sign language, written words, objects alongside pictures can be used to pass on information and improve communication (Koster et al, 2010). Children with special educational and intellectual needs with more focus on those with autism, have strength in nonverbal skills. Nonverbal skills are accompanied with a visual approach by educators so as to enhance faster understanding and learning by these students.
When it comes to communication among children, different stages must be undergone in order for the learning to be successful. Children with autism tend to take a little more time in the array of stages compared to children without autism or any special intellectual needs. Among the different stages of communication development there are those that majorly focus on children with autism without necessarily being of benefit to the rest of the children without any special needs. Foremost, the most basic form of communication among children is expressing their needs, although at this stage a child can only do so using one method to portray a variety of needs (Koster et al, 2010). Under this stage a child does not necessarily pass a message to one person. It is followed expression of specific needs by children.
This is whereby a child starts using the visual and nonverbal communication, through for instance pulling a person towards an item they want, or even reaching out for something. This is an indication that the child has a specific idea in mind and wants his or her needs fulfilled and in the process gets to communicate to another person.
Thirdly, the use of gestures goes a long way in teaching communication skills. Children with autism may at times find it difficult to use gestures because at first, it is not easy to comprehend thus tend to appear later on in the development of communication skills. Gestures are the pathway through which people get to communicate their internal ideas as well as socialize with others; this may pose as a challenge to intellectually challenged students and children because of their level of comprehension. Use of gestures among children and students with autism may appear later on after mastering complex ways of effectively communicating with others (Bashir, & Hook, 2009). Some of the activities that fall under this aspect include, pointing at an object, shrugging one’s shoulders among other range of common gestures.
Under gesture use, there is the aspect of joint attention which pose as a challenge for the special need children, this is as a result of the fact that a lot of attention is needed for a person to have the same focus with another. In this case using concrete examples visually goes a long way in embedding it in the mind of the students and children. For instance instead of pointing at an object, the teacher goes ahead and touches the object. Teaching students with special needs call for a little more patience as they get to learn step by step about all the elements appertaining communication.