Scholarly article on topic 'Optimising Special Education: Active Language and Psychomotor Education'

Optimising Special Education: Active Language and Psychomotor Education Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Iuliana Barna, Corina Dobrotă, Mircea Dragu

Abstract The present paper provides an alternative intervention model for improving the education of children with special needs. The educational model proposed involves both the teaching staff specializing in various curricular areas, and the pupils with sensory, physical, intellectual and language deficiencies. The initial stage of the study refers to an informal approach of the educational process including children with special needs, explaining the multifaceted terms special education, language education, psychomotor education, recovery, and normalization. Special education needs adapting to the individual peculiarities and characteristics of a certain learning deficiency, that is why the second part of the study proposes a series of methods and techniques aimed at optimizing the educational process. These intervention means are mainly focused on the systematic observation of the children with special needs and the difficulties they have to face: 1) Oral communication disorders: refer to reception problems, lack of vocabulary development, weak linguistic component and language deficiencies; 2) Reading difficulties: the main issues refer to recognising, decoding and understanding the words read; 3) Writing difficulties: manifested by difficulties in performing writing tasks; 4) Deficiencies of general and advanced motility: the pupils are challenged in point of the spatial coordination of motility. The final assessment of the entire process should be multidimensional, including all the specialists involved, viz. psychologists, physicians, pedagogues, teachers, educators, sociologists, welfare workers, and speech therapists, thus achieving a genuine partnership beneficial to the children in need.

Academic research paper on topic "Optimising Special Education: Active Language and Psychomotor Education"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 84 (2013) 390 - 395

3rd World Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Guidance (WCPCG-2012)

Optimising Special Education: Active Language and Psychomotor

Education

Iuliana Barnaa, Corina Dobrotab* , Mircea Draguc

aAssist. PhD.Iuliana Barna, University Dunarea de Jos Galati, 800003, Romania b Lecturer PhD Corina Dobrota, University Dunarea de Jos Galati, 800003, Romania _cAssociate Professor PhD, Mircea Dragu, University Dunarea de Jos Galati, 800003, Romania_

Abstract

The present paper provides an alternative intervention model for improving the education of children with special needs. The educational model proposed involves both the teaching staff specializing in various curricular areas, and the pupils with sensory, physical, intellectual and language deficiencies. The initial stage of the study refers to an informal approach of the educational process including children with special needs, explaining the multifaceted terms special education, language education, psychomotor education, recovery, and normalization. Special education needs adapting to the individual peculiarities and characteristics of a certain learning deficiency, that is why the second part of the study proposes a series of methods and techniques aimed at optimizing the educational process. These intervention means are mainly focused on the systematic observation of the children with special needs and the difficulties they have to face: 1) Oral communication disorders: refer to reception problems, lack of vocabulary development, weak linguistic component and language deficiencies; 2) Reading difficulties: the main issues refer to recognising, decoding and understanding the words read; 3) Writing difficulties: manifested by difficulties in performing writing tasks; 4) Deficiencies of general and advanced motility: the pupils are challenged in point of the spatial coordination of motility.

The final assessment of the entire process should be multidimensional, including all the specialists involved, viz. psychologists, physicians, pedagogues, teachers, educators, sociologists, welfare workers, and speech therapists, thus achieving a genuine partnership beneficial to the children in need.

© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selectionand peer-reviewunder responsibilityofProf.Dr.Huseyin Uzunboylu&Dr.MukaddesDemirok,Near East University, Cyprus Keywords: special education, language education, psychomotor education

1. Introduction

Education is often defined in specialized literature as a complex but necessary process which provides every individual with the opportunity to integrate into a constantly changing social system according to his skills and abilities. The optimisation of special education through programmes of integration or inclusion of young disabled people, with psycho affective or cognitive disorders, is in fact acknowledging their value and potential. Although

* Corresponding author name.Corina Dobrota Tel.: +39-339-7304494 E-mail address: corina.dobrota@ugal.ro

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu & Dr. Mukaddes Demirok, Near East University, Cyprus doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.572

there are certain physical, cognitive or affective dysfunctions, the individuals with special needs possess a series of compensating abilities that may enable them to come closer to "normalcy" within the community, especially if they benefit from special services or facilities. In this case, normalcy means providing decent life conditions, accepting these individuals in the society or community they belong to, (Granerud, A, 2008) providing them with the same rights, responsibilities and possibilities of access to the community services like the other community members, in order to maximize their potential. In other words, normally refers to the support provided to all individuals with special needs, especially children, by all the components of the social system, to enable them to lead a life as similar as possible with the lives of the other members of society. The practical consequences of normalcy are the programmes based on inclusion and integration.

B. Nirje (1969) considers that "integration means to be allowed to be yourself among others". Integration refers to the relation between individual and society, viz. the manner in which society accepts and values the individual. Intention may also be viewed as an efficient means of "recovery".

1.1. Levels of integration:

Physical integration - allows the disabled child to fulfil his basic needs and comply with the life rhythm.

Functional integration - ensures the child's functionality in the environment, by means of all the facilities and services provided by it.

Social integration - refers to the ensemble of social relations between the children with special needs and the other members of the community, i.e. teachers, educators, counselors, psychologists, welfare workers, etc.

Personal integration - is linked to developing relations with significant persons, in different life periods (the child's relations with his parents, relatives, friends, siblings, other children).

Integration in society and organizations- refers to providing equal rights and observing the self-determination of each individual.

Several countries debated and adopted laws on the integration of children with special needs in regular education, granting these children the equal right to learn beside the other children. Thus, a variety of models were created, ranging from partial to total integration. At the basis of these educational models lies the principle of observing the Fundamental Human Rights, the principle of education for all, the principle of integration and normalcy, the principle of individualization of education and equality of access to education for all, the principle of deinstitutionalisation, avoiding segregation and granting value to differences.

2. Methods of educational intervention

According to Steve McCall, the most common models in the world are:

1. The model of cooperation between the special school with the regular school

Cooperation consists in mutual visits between the children in the two types of schools, to be able to benefit from a series of mutual advantages. The teachers in the special school will help the children with special needs in their integration effort, adapting learning materials to the appropriate level of understanding, providing educational counselling to the teachers in the regular school or even teaching side by side. The special school may provide supplementary resources, tapping into the psycho pedagogical experience, thus avoiding learning difficulties in all pupils. To be effective, this model requires cooperation and minute preparation.

2. The model based on organizing a class of children with special needs in regular school

Children with special needs join this class where they receive education under the guidance of a teacher specializing in recovery education.

3. The model based on using an instruction room and separate resources within a regular school

The school contains a separate space where a specialist teacher provides counselling and specific therapy to children with special needs, adapting teaching materials in accordance with the children's needs in the educational activities. This model may be complemented with assisting psycho pedagogy teachers, supporting the class teacher during classes and in doing homework.

4. The model based on the itinerant teacher (Lynch, P., & McCall, S. 2007) - a specialist in working with pupils with special needs, hired by the regular school. This model provides the possibility of cooperation between the class teacher and other supporting educator hired by the local school authorities. In this case, the itinerant teacher provides assistance to the class teacher, and also to the pupils in class and especially during the activities of special education and specific therapy (language development through speech therapy, motor intervention through specific games, and non-verbal imitation, physical therapy) etc.

5. The common model, based on the itinerant teacher, who also acts as a counsellor, specialised in the activity of children with special needs, working with all the children in a certain area. The itinerant teacher initially works with the parents, by exposing the case or the incipient needs of the child, and as the child grows up, he teaches the tutors to relate to, and communicate with, the child so that he is not isolated. It is also the itinerant teacher's duty to facilitate the child's enrollment in kindergarten, and then to help in choosing the most suitable school. During school, the educator specializing in recovery therapy provides adequate advice and support to the teachers involved in the education of the child with special needs. Here is a model proposed by a specialist therapist in this respect, consisting of a programme which is gradually assessed according to the target and the abilities of each child. The programme aims at educating 4 children with special needs in elementary school, with different psychomotor and cognitive developments, whose competence level is assessed differently. The objective is to attain the learning level of 2nd grade, initial level, preparatory group.

_Table 1. Current programme_

No Programme\

New item (target) Previous item — acquired in

previous lessons

Assessment scale ( Pupil 1 Pupil 2 Pupil 3 Pupil 4

ABABABAB

Deficiencies of the oral language Verbalisation-myogymnastics and speech therapy

Reading difficulties

Deficiencies of the oral language

Body Parts Expressive Deficiencies of general and finely-tuned

motility

Non verbal imitation

Writing difficulties

Graphical sign drawing and writing

Deficiencies of general and finely-tuned motility

Sporting activities training

Vowels Sentence

I am learning how to read and write

Choose the word ? friend

Coordination of 4

consecutive

movements

Spell the word « friend »

Squatting movement

I am .... I live in.... The parents' job

I attend school no.

What letters do you recognize ? The alphabet

Nose Teeth Elbow Sole

Coordination of 3

consecutive

movements.

All letters will be checked

Jumping from one leg to the other Throwing a ball through the hoop

2 3 3 3 3 4 1 3

2 3 3 3 3 4 1 2

2 2 4 4 3 4 1 3

44224423

2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2

4 4 2 2 4 4 3 3

Play in the park - socialisation

3 3 4 2

»Assessment scale 1- poor, 2 — satisfactory, 3- good, 4- excellent (100%)

3. Discussion

As it may be seen, each pupil evolves differently, according to the abilities acquired in a certain linguistic or motor domain, and also the manner of socialisation or interaction with the tutor, itinerant teacher, counsellor, psychologist, or other children. Statistically speaking, pupil no. 3 is in an advanced recovery stage as compared to the other children involved in the educational programme. Consequently, he will be proposed another higher level programme, focusing on developing his writing and reading skills, recommending sporting activities (even at an advanced training level) , and integrating into a group of educational recovery apt to answer his new needs. Pupil no.1 will get as a reward more sporting and ludical activities, (see Fig.3) if he reaches his target in his language and writing development activities. Pupil no. 2 requires the assistance of a therapist as he has motility issues, and as far as pupil no. 4 is concerned, a blockage may be seen at the moment of assimilating new knowledge. (see Fig. 2 and Fig. 4) The blockage may also be the result of an unfavourable environment or a rigid teaching manner.

Difficulties of oral language

100% -.—

90%--^-

80%---I -

70%--^-M ---

60%--■ -----

50%-----^^^m

40%--I -----

30%--1 -----

20%--1 -----

10%--I -----

0% J-^-i-^-i-^-i-^^^

Pupil 1 Pupil 2 Pupil 3 Pupil 4

Figure 1. Assessment of the programme for the promotion of oral language

Reading difficulties

80%----

70%--^-1 - -

60%--■ - - -

50%--I -----

40%--I -----

30%-----

20%--I - - -

10%--1 - - -

0% J-^-T-^-T-^-T-^^^

Pupil 1 Pupil 2 Pupil 3 Pupil 4

Figure 2. Assessment of the programme for graphic sign identification

General motility deficiences

120% 100% -80% -60%

40%--■ -----

20%--1 - - -

0% -I-^-T-^-T-^-T-

Pupil 1 Pupil 2 Pupil 3 Pupil 4

Figure 3. Assessment of the motility programme

Writing difficulties

100% 90% 80% 70%

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Pupil 1 Pupil 2 Pupil 3 Pupil 4

Figure 4. Assessment of the written communication programme

Creating a favourable environment prior to the implementation of a recovery programme is of utmost importance. It will not only increase the efficiency of the entire programme, but also make it more agreeable for the child and his family. It is achieved by arranging situations in such a manner that the child may have a better chance at being calm and cooperative. At first, the educators should only play the child's favourite game and ask for NOTHING in return from the child, so that he may feel loved and secure. Once the child is comfortable, he may be given easy instructions with a better chance of being followed. By arranging the learning situations to the child's advantage, unwanted behaviours will decrease, and the child will uninhibitedly interact with the tutor and respond to his demands.

Praising should be explicit: the child is told what he did right and why he is praised. The aim is to constantly identify the desirable behaviours; here are some illustrations: "I like that you are calm" ," thank you for paying

attention", "it is wonderful that you are listening". Anyway, language should be maintained to the child's level of comprehension.

Choosing the integration models should be in accordance with the child's needs. To be effective, the models have to take into account the geographical, social and economic context of the national educational system; also, the careful planning of the educational-compensatory intervention programme should constitute a top priority.

3.1. Optimising the educational environment

Careful structuring of the recovery activity environment and adequate curricular choice; strict continuity in time for the training of all the parties involved, viz. tutors, teachers, counsellors, therapists parents, etc.;

A strictly individualised approach of the child with special needs, taking into account the general acquisition level; the focus lies on the actual teaching methods, aimed at receiving immediate feed-back ;

Long-term perspective, including periodical assessments of the cognitive and developmental acquisitions; A stimulating programme of the learning activity by granting social individualised rewards.

4. Conclusions

In conclusion, the process of early educational intervention aims at helping the child with special needs in making the most of all his latent and manifest potentialities, living life to the fullest with his possibilities, (Thomas J. Weihs, 1998) and developing in a constructive, balanced environment. Integrated education enables the child with special needs to live together with the other children, take part in common activities, acquiring fundamental skills for life and a proper social insertion.

The educational process optimisation can only be achieved by free access to education for all children, irrespective of their differences, issued from a personal developmental model, from what society deemed as "normal". Participating in community life presupposes the children's possibility to physically, cognitively and affectively reach the society's educational influences, integrate in school, and favourably respond to the educational requirements. The quality of education refers to identifying the dimensions of the didactic process, the learning contents, and the educational agents that may best support the education of all the categories of children, ensuring their success in an open, flexible, efficient system.

References

Granerud, A, (2008). Social integration for people with mental health problems: Experiences, perspectives and practical changes, Doctoral thesis

at the nordic school of public health, Göteborg, Sweden. Nordic School of Public Health, pp. 16-17. Lynch, P., & McCall, S. (2007). The role of itinerant teachers. Community Eye Health Journal, Vol. 20, (62).

Nirje, Bengt (1969). The Normalization Principle and its Human Management Implications. In R B Kugel & W Wolfensberger (Eds.) Changing

Patterns in Residential Services for the Mentally Retarded Chapter 7, pp. 179-195. Nirje B. (1985). The Basis and Logic of the Normalization Principle. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Developmental Disabilities 11: 6368.

Thomas J. W. (1998). Copilul cu nevoi speciale, Children with special needs, Editura Triade, Cluj-Napoca.