Inclusion and Autism in Main Stream Schools

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Apart or A Part?
Inclusion and Autism in Main Stream Primary Settings.

The number of pupils with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) being educated in mainstream settings is increasing (Humphrey 2008). Inclusion in main stream education can be extremely beneficial for pupils on the autism spectrum (Great Britain. Department for Children, Schools and families, 2009), however there is growing concern about the educational experiences of pupils with ASC. Only 12% of parents with children in an unsupported mainstream primary school are very satisfied (Barnard et al 2000). Almost half of the schools staff where pupils with ASC attend feel that a significant number of the pupils are not getting the specialist support they need and over half felt that support was not forthcoming due to delays in diagnosis and statementing. Around a third mentioned insufficient resources both human and financial. Overall schools were clear that inclusion works for many children but by no means for all (The National Autistic Society 2002). Significant debate continues over the effectiveness and appropriateness of recommending pupils with ASC for placement in mainstream settings. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO, 1994) agreed that learners with disabilities including those with autism are entitled to educational services in maximally normalised settings that offer the greatest opportunities for interaction with typical peers. Differences of opinion surrounding interpretation of this requirement are plentiful and contribute to the inconsistencies in support, training and expertise (Dyson and Millward 2000; Humphreys, 2008). Keywords: Austistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), Inclusion, Main Stream, Support

The publication of the Warnock Report 1978 caused revolutionary changes to the education system. It altered the way in which society viewed students with disabilities and moved towards a philosophy for inclusive education (Moore, 2009). Many reports and much legislation has emerged from Warnock’s radical 1978 report including 1981 Education Act establishing Warnock’s recommendation’s, The National Curriculum 1988, The Education Act 1993, 1994 Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs, Excellence for All Children 1997, 2001 SEN and Disability Act, ‘Barriers to Inclusion’ (DfES, 2004) ‘Special Educational Needs: A New Look (2005). In the 2005 review Warnock suggests that there should be no priority made to main stream or special school only the needs of the child and that either setting should be considered against the provision of support to the needs of the pupil (Warnock, 2010) Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects the way a person relates to the world around them (Batten et al 2006). Autism now known to be a physical dysfunction of the brain and not as once thought an emotional disturbance (Wolff 2003) affects the brain functions associated with the drive to interact with other human beings, something that seems to be inborn with people who do not have an autistic disorder (Barnard et al 2000) . This results in what is often referred to as ‘The Triad of Impairments’ affecting social interaction, communication and imagination (Wing 2002). The impact of these three areas of difficulty on the life of the person with an ASC will vary: every person with autism is an individual. In addition to the triad of impairments, people with autism often have heightened senses and may become distressed at noise, brightness or touch (Batten et al 2006). The ASC spectrum includes children with profound learning difficulties with little or no verbal communication, through to those with above average IQ. The barriers faced by children with ASC are social so the pupil’s needs cannot be measured by the medical model of disability alone (Wing, 1996). Children with ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) characteristically demonstrate significant deficits in basic...
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