Autism: An investigation into the needs and policies at Key stages 1 and 2 in a London primary school

How does the inclusion policy compare to the practice within a mainstream school to meet the needs of children with Autism.

This study will look at what strategies are in place to support the inclusion of pupils with Autism.

I shall conduct this research issue by targeting the following three questions:

* How does the school target the needs of autistic children within their setting?

* Does the schools behavioural policy meet the needs of autistic children and link with their inclusion policy?

* What support is in place to assist teachers in mainstream schools with autistic children?

This is a practical issue as very recently there has been a huge increase in the research and local knowledge and interest as far more people become aware of autism. Autism is a life-long developmental disability affecting social and communication skills and children and adults share a familiar difficulty in making sense of the world and often have an accompanying learning disability.

Inclusion is one of the Governments top priorities within Education.

As eighteen months ago the Government sought to strengthen the move towards “inclusion” still further with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA). As stated by Independent. Co. uk/Education (2003). I shall base my research in one mainstream primary school and gain as much practical knowledge by interviewing the consenting staff of the pupils that I will base my research. I shall also examine documents such as the school policies and research articles; observation will also be a vital part of my research. There are many potential difficulties that I may be faced with when I use these types of qualitative research.

With my choice to use interviews there may be difficulties with the anonymity of these interviews as there are only a limited number of sources available for such personal, intrusive methods of research findings. This approach may evoke unhappy hostile feelings towards certain people. This may also raise the hopes that something will be done. By using observations as a method this may cause discomfort for the individual involved, as this method is intrusive to the participants daily activities with someone chaperoning them, which can also make anonymity almost impossible.

The documentary evidence that I also need to access to investigate the policies at key stages 1 and 2 may be difficult to access. I shall continue to use these methods as interviews is an effective way of validating my observations further as this can be a successful way of hearing the views of the participants without affecting the results of my findings but offering ” an in depth picture of a particular area” Drever, (1995) pp7. Whilst being able to adapt the questions to suit the individuals.

I shall only interview necessary individuals who are vital to the investigation that I propose to undertake. I shall ensure that each interviewee’s details are kept anonymous and only available, as part of a conclusion where necessary. I shall certify that each interview shall be located in a confidential environment. My observations shall be tape-recorded and therefore although previous consent and approval verified the times, place and situation of my observation shall be anonymous to all.

With the documentary evidence although the evidence I require is looking at how it affects a minority the inclusion and behavioural policies are written for all children and therefore access should be endorsed. I am aiming to make people aware of just how diverse children with autistic spectrum disorders are and to find out just how much the inclusion policy guidelines intend on ensuring that these needs are met within the classroom.

My work may achieve this by the results that I receive once I have carried out my research and findings it may reveal whether or not teachers are implementing the inclusion policy correctly within the classroom and if not why not? I intend on finding out the reasons behind this. I feel that my research will benefit both the teachers and the children with autistic spectrum disorders as well as other children in the class. These children’s’ needs need to be met and therefore the more information that teachers and early years workers have the better.

Children with Autistic Spectrum disorders have behavioural and social difficulties and so teachers need to be aware of how to provide for each Childs needs. I believe that my results will be sustainable, as I shall report my findings to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) of the school that I carry out my research in so that if the staffs in the classes do need more information then the situation can be rectified.

My research shall take the form of a case study in one mainstream primary school. This case study shall endeavour to investigate how the Inclusion policy compares to the practice within a mainstream school to meet the needs of children with Autism. “Case studies focus on one instance (or a few instances) of a particular phenomena with a view of providing an in-depth account of events, relationships, experiences or processes occurring in that particular instance. ” Denscombe, M. (2003) page 32.

Case studies research does not have a specified or recognisable methodological approach however “superficially case study is often set against quantitative research as belonging to a different ‘paradigm’, but in some ways this distinction is misleading, the case study worker is often more ‘quantitative’ in orientation than is realised. ” Walker, R. (1978) page 177. This case study shall take the qualitative approach. “A qualitative approach emphasises meanings, experiences, descriptions and so on.

Raw data will be exactly what people have said (in interview or recorded conversation) or a description of what has been observed. Coolican, H. (1990) page 37. The analysis of qualitative research findings tends to be interpretive as it takes the form of verbal descriptions and explanations that are interpreted by the researcher from a collection of information that has been provided from an insider’s point of view. For this project it was necessary to propose that an interpretive and qualitative approach is used to collect data as I propose to investigate the needs, views and experiences of the autistic children and the practice that the London primary school exercise in Key stages 1 and 2.

My research shall also aim to be emancipatory, as “since its inception emancipatory disability research model has generally been associated with qualitative rather than quantitative data collection strategies This is almost certainly due to the argument that up to now large scale surveys and detailed quantitative analyses have never captured fully the extent and complexity of the oppression encountered by disabled people.

Additionally, these studies are generally favoured by advocates of objectivity and value freedom, and therefore are easily subject to political manipulation. Abberley, P. (1992) pp139. “However there are numerous debates about the question of objectivity within the social sciences and the sciences generally. The idea that ‘scientists’ of whatever persuasion, social or otherwise, generally can interpret data without reference to personal values or interests is one that has been promulgated by philosophers, scientists, and later politicians, since at least the enlightenment.

The reality is that all information whatever its source and format can be interpreted in a variety of different ways and those charged with the responsibility of interpreting it are influenced by various forces, economic, political, and cultural. ” Barnes, C. (2003) pp10. I plan to examine the situation and environment of the autistic children and with the permission of those children and the individuals that are involved I hope to observe and interview by using the least intrusive method.

Possibly by asking the individuals permission to observe them. This will be at any time when they least expect it. I shall do this as according to Anderson, (1998) pp119. “A fundamental assumption of the qualitative research paradigm is that a profound understanding of the world can be gained through observation in natural settings rather than through experimental manipulation under artificial conditions”. Once I have done so I would then sit and talk to them about what I have observed and ask them if they would like to comment on it.

This will represent emancipatory research, as it is inclusive and participatory practice. However, “whilst it may be argued that including information about disabled people’s experiences in research reports is empowering for some isolated disabled individuals and that the inclusion of participants narratives is necessary to illustrate the social context in which the research was conducted, it is important to remember that social scientists have been documenting the experiences of powerless people, including those who could be defined as disabled, for most of last century.

It is important therefore that within an emancipatory disability research framework, any discussions of disabled people’s experiences, narratives and stories are couched firmly within an environmental and cultural setting that highlights the disabling consequences of a society organised around the needs of a mythical, affluent non-disabled majority. ” As stated by Barnes, C. (2003) pp10.

The way that mainstream education carry out and implement their inclusion policy is very important to autistic children that are in mainstream education. I plan to request permission even though this may later become a constraint if any of the individuals involved decide to opt out. Once I have observed the individuals involved providing that all allow this to happen I shall then ask if they would like to make a comment on my findings and ensure that their voice is well documented so that it is ethically reported. It is important to consider how personal values and beliefs may shape the research topic”.

Clough and Barton, (1995). This I anticipate will empower the individuals to have a say and a very strong input into the research that they have allowed me to carry out. All participants that will be involved will be made aware that I am not planning to change anything but merely making a document of findings that should anyone wish to find out more information this shall be available to them.

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