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Effective Teaching Methods for Autistic Students

  • 18 Pages
  • Published On: 28-11-2023

Introduction

Education is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all human beings. Article 26 of the United Nations Human Rights Charter states that. It is a right that enhances an individual's life quality and makes them capable of carrying forward their personal and professional duties. Hence, the right to education is a fundamental human right (right-to-education.org). According to Murray (2015), training has a significant impact on a teacher's knowledge and level of comfort when teaching in inclusive classrooms. With a better understanding of disability and effective strategies for teaching students with disabilities, educators feel more comfortable when disabled learners are included in their classrooms. Autism spectrum disorder has a significant impact on children with disabilities (ASD). People with this condition have decreased social interaction, poor behavior, and an inability to communicate effectively. According to the DSM-5, people with autism may display compulsive and repetitive behaviors and limited interests and social engagement. They may also have trouble adapting to change or the routine. A person with autism has a wide range of characteristics and levels of severity. Children with autism do have certain commonalities, but it is essential to remember that every child with autism is unique. Autism is a complex disorder, so one-size-fits-all approaches are not appropriate for all autistic students (Van Tran et al., 2020). every student requires different teaching strategies, and the resources available, such as a teacher aide, must be considered. Research-proven interventions for teaching students with autism include highly structured interventions. Teaching strategies that consider each student's unique needs and offer predictability and routine help those with autism address their common sources of anxiety. Structured teaching methods are organized around the use of visual supports and the organization of the physical environment. Kanner (1943) declared that autistic children tended to be aloof and preferred to stay alone rather than join with others. Therefore, the education system and teaching techniques also need to change (Zager and Shamow, 2005). For example, transitions, communication, and task completion can be difficult for children with autism who struggle with self-regulation. Therefore, a typical school day is filled with stressful situations, and some children are more affected by these situations than others. Effective teaching should also consider facilitating self-regulation. However, educators should first identify the child's stress symptoms and attempt to change the child's response to the stress. Likewise, the attentive adult will notice a slight change in them and may suggest an alternative behavior. This means that teachers should implement academic strategies and behavioral and practical social strategies to improve students' performance and educational experiences with ASD. Unfortunately, in most countries, there is no specific legislation for inclusive education. However, these countries have several government policies that intend to promote inclusive education to benefit disabled persons. Most policies only state that such students with disabilities should not be discriminated against by age, religion, and other factors and should have access to basic or primary education. Therefore, the issue of teaching these students when in school is neglected and becoming less understood.

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Purpose of Research

So far, there is a significant concern on how well schools meet young people's educational needs with autism. It is not well understood how teaching is effective since there is limited knowledge on effective teaching strategies. Besides, regardless of existing laws, continuous teachers training is a challenge, thus impacting how students with autism are taught? Therefore, this study's objective is to explore the methods and techniques teachers can use to teach students with autism spectrum. The research will add knowledge of effective teaching strategies by exploring existing literature on this particular subject. The study will look at the existing teaching methods used in teaching autistic children presently, and based on the literature it has reviewed, it will critically analyze them. The research will consider students of all ages, as it realizes that autism is not exclusively a childhood occurrence. The study will thus create an overview of the effective teaching methods for autistic students and examine previous literature on the topic. Besides, it will list research questions and explain the study methodology and research design. The methodology will also involve sample and sampling, data collection, and consider the study limitations and ethical deliberation. Finally, the research will describe the importance of this particular research in contemporary times to locate it further down the line in educational policies and programs.

Review of Literatur

There is very little knowledge and preparation for inclusive education for children with autism because of how new the subject of autism is in terms of research and knowledge. Students also face social interaction, communication, and imagination problems, as stated by Gavaldá and Qinyi (2012). To handle these issues, a team of experts from different disciplines will coordinate and work together. Over the years, many collaboration models have been developed for special education teachers and their counterparts in special education. Although these models tend to focus on four types of disabilities: hearing impairment, visual impairment, mental handicap, and motor difficulties, these models typically include these four types of disabilities. To a lesser extent, regular schools are used to educate these children. Because of this, kids with other developmental issues, such as autism, anxiety, and ADHD, are left out.

How Autism impact Student Performance

Atypical developmental disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts how people communicate and interact socially. Most individuals with ASD demonstrate challenging or repetitive behaviors, according to Furneaux and Roberts (2018). Despite its disproportionate impact on women, the disorder affects people of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Scientists aren't sure what causes autism, but some factors raise the risk of developing the disorder, such as having a family history of autism and being born to older parents (Lima et al., 2017). On top of that, the study shows that individuals with ASD are more likely to come across as socially awkward, which leads to social exclusion from their peers and bullying and teasing. These circumstances directly impact a child's emotional well-being. This creates an endless cycle of poor social skills, increased anxiety, and depression, further increasing social ineptitude. Since schools are social environments, it makes sense that socially disadvantaged students may have a hard time there. The fact that autistic children's social abilities interfere with learning in a classroom setting is also often criticized. For example, Ostmeyer and Scarpa (2012) show that one critical set of skills that learners must have is listening, following instructions, ignoring interruptions, following rules, requesting help, remaining calm, controlling one's emotions, and assuming personal responsibility. Learning difficulties in ASD often result in problems with all of these social skills. Many mainstream classrooms are full of distractions that prohibit the participation of autistic students (Fleury et al., 2014). Additionally, this group is uncomfortable in new or changing situations, so they encounter a challenge in the transition stages. Students with autism face numerous other challenges, all of which affect their ability to learn: developmentally typical children would also experience these issues. Effective supports must be put in place to help students who have autism succeed in school and life (Fleury et al., 2014). Students with ASD can benefit from academic, social, and behavioral supports to help them get the most out of school.

Social Strategies

Educators can help autistic students improve their social skills by implementing strategies in the classroom. Most autistic students struggle with issues like poor imitation and a failure to pick up on social cues. As a result, they find it challenging to engage in social interactions. For students with autism, research by Fleury et al. (2014) shows that teaching social skills in an environment where their demonstration is expected is the most effective approach. This method considers that many autistic students find it challenging to transfer their skills to different situations. Additionally, students with ASD may be unable to apply social skills they have learned outside of the classroom to a particular situation within the classroom (Ostmeyer & Scarpa, 2012). According to the findings, peer models and tutors can be extremely helpful in helping students with ASD improve their social skills. Furthermore, schools can use practical strategies to help autistic students enhance their social skills, such as playing playful imitation games and using computer applications. Because of their lack of imitation skills, students with ASD are less likely to pick up new skills by watching others do them. Because typically developing children learn social skills through observation, autistic students have a significant disadvantage. As a result, the teacher should mimic the autistic child's actions in a playful manner. Mimicking their behavior motivates them to copy the teachers' behavior as well (Cumagun et al., 2009). People with autism can benefit from computers in a variety of ways, including communication, socialization, behavioral modification, and academic success. When used as a social strategy, computers can encourage children to take turns with a parent, a teacher, a peer, or even with the computer. Teachers, on the other hand, should meticulously prepare their students' interactions with computers before they use them.

Academic Strategies

Although social and behavioral strategies can help students with ASD improve their performance, educators should also implement formal academic strategies to help these students reach their full academic potential. Incorporating technology into the teaching and learning process is one of these strategies. Since people with ASD are visual learners, they usually respond well to computer use, adoption of shared reading programs, detailed instruction, and structured learning environments are only a few strategies that can be used in the classroom and the integration of technology. According to Chakraborty et al. (2017), Computers can be used to engage students in the same way while also providing a "visual impact to the learner. In addition, the study suggests that computers gave students a sense of predictability they may not have received from humans, giving them self-control and confidence when completing academic tasks. Teacher-led shared reading activities with modified text, visual supports, and objects did not affect the comprehension and engagement of autistic children with limited verbal communication abilities, according to a study conducted by Muchetti (2013). This unique activity engaged four children with autism ranging in age from six to eight. Researchers found that children with autism can benefit from early literacy activities tailored to their specific needs, which helps them improve their reading comprehension skills. In the course of teaching, teachers must go into great detail describing the task or skill they're instructing (Fleury et al., 2014). Teaching students over time is better for them because it gives them a better chance of understanding the material and using it on their own. Students with autism benefit from structured learning environments, which have been shown to improve their academic development. Using data from a Dutch special education school, Manti et al. (2013) looked into teaching strategies to see which ones were most effective at helping students acquire academic knowledge. There were 89 students in total, 45 of whom were autistic. Students were required to retake the standardized tests after a two-year gap. According to the findings, the essential factor in helping ASD students succeed academically was providing them with structure. Researchers have found that structured learning environments help students with ASD perform better by reducing disruptive behaviors, anxiety, and confusion. No matter how difficult it may be for a learner, using technology, engaging in group reading activities, and setting up a structured learning environment can help them achieve tremendous academic success.

Behavioral Strategies

Children with ASD may exhibit problematic behavior that impedes their learning and disrupts the learning of other students in the classroom. Complex behavior can include difficulty listening and following instructions, difficulty adhering to classroom rules, and displays of repetitive, disruptive behaviors. According to Boyd et al. (2011), situations designed to limit repetitive behavior can be stressful for people with autism, thus creating aggression, self-injury, or other repetitive and problem behaviors. Neely et al. (2013) reveal that computers are emerging as a new and effective intervention for reducing challenging behaviors in the classroom. The study compared the use of iPads to traditional paper/pencil teaching methods and learned that the iPad acted as a motivator for the participants. Moreover, transitions between schools, classrooms, and even activities can be highly stressful for people with ASD, thus creating challenging behaviors. Moreover, a study conducted by Perfitt (2013) suggested involving learners in creating their transition plans to ensure they understand what is going to happen. Besides, the study concluded that it is critical to individualize transition plans to ensure they meet the needs of each student and that it is essential to teach students general coping strategies for dealing with various types of stress. These practical strategies can be easily incorporated into transition plans to help students with autism make smooth and successful transitions. Supporting transition improves students' school experience resulting in fewer social and behavioural challenges, which will lead to improved academic attention.

Research Questions

  1. How Autism impact Student Performance
  2. What are the most effective social methods and strategies for teaching students with autism spectrum?
  3. What are the most effective academic methods and strategies for teaching students with autism spectrum?
  4. What are the most effective behavioural methods and strategies for teaching students with autism spectrum?
Research Methodology

Research Design

The purpose of this research and to improve data relevance, empirical mixed-method research will be performed, using the pragmatic methodology of gathering relevant data. Moreover, the study will utilize quantitative and qualitative data collected, analyzed, and allow complementary results. Borrego et al. (2009) state that mixed methods are beneficial when contrasting quantitative and qualitative findings. Encourages participants to take a broader point of view. According to Goertzen (2017), quantitative research is defined as any research that involves collecting and analyzing numerical data. The advantage of such an approach is that the results of this research can be replicated and reproduced at any time. Furthermore, if this paper aims to produce policy-oriented research, then it has to rely on figures and facts. However, the limitation of quantitative research is that it doesn't explain why a particular phenomenon takes place. On the other hand, the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting non-numerical data, such as language, is referred to as qualitative research. The tools used to conduct this study will be open-ended questions that will be presented in a questionnaire format. The participants will be presented with a set of open-ended questions to enable them to present qualitative data. The quantitative and qualitative methods help examine the relationship between measurable variables. Moreover, the principal motivation for mixing the two approaches is that they expand when used together, thus helping researchers gain a greater and more comprehensive understanding of a subject (Borrego et al., 2009).

Sample and Sampling

The study will adopt the use of a questionnaire to collect data from primary schools. Therefore, the respondent will be contacted through their primary school administration. The sample will consist of students who fall on the autism spectrum, and the same has been medically testified. The research understands that it will be easier to access students through the connection of institutions like schools. After getting their information from public records, the schools will be contacted, and the project relies on their cooperation to access the sample population. To achieve their consent, the school will be approached via email and telephonically. Charan and Biswas developed the formula (Z1-α/22 P (1-P)) for calculating the required sample size for a study (Charan & Biswas, 2013). Therefore, the estimated sample size for the present study is 111; however, due to delay and other limitations, 150 participants will be involved. The study will use a random sampling procedure. According to Jia and Barabási (2013), random sampling is defined as a sampling technique where every item in the population has an even chance and likelihood of being selected in the sample. Here the selection of items entirely depends on luck or probability, and therefore this sampling technique is also sometimes known as a method of chances. Besides, Jia and Barabási (2013) state that this method is a fundamental sampling method and can easily be a more complex sampling method component. The main attribute of this sampling method is that every sample has the same probability of being chosen.

Data collection

Responders will be requested to answer the questionnaire. According to Acharya et al. (2013), this method efficiently gathers data on a large scale. Additionally, it can be sent to a significant number of people all at once. Additionally, the anonymity the instrument provides makes participants more willing to share information. Averaged responses from open-ended and closed-ended questions are utilized for the instrument survey. This method is economical for both the sender and the recipient because it requires minimal time, effort, and money (Acharya et al., 2013). The low cost of running the study using questionnaires is a significant benefit. The researcher does not need to spend money on the printing of the questionnaire. Besides, the researcher does not make a point of visiting every respondent one by one. To conduct the research, it does not require a significant investment. The study’s qualitative data will be incorporated within a primarily quantitative methodology to allow for additional research.

Research Tools

The research tool which will be used in the completion of this research will be a mixed-methods questionnaire. The questions will be directed towards the students to understand how well they interact and understand teaching through non-traditional methods. The research questionnaire will begin with a series of close-ended questions that will record the student's general information and progress to the detailed, open-ended questions that will concentrate on understanding how students react to non-traditional forms of teaching, such as usage of audio-visual cues. The parameters for the questions will be made after a further inquiry into the most predominant forms of teaching, which are both informally and formally employed by the teachers when teaching students with autism. The questions will also be arranged based on a Likert scale to measure factors like how many samples like non-traditional forms of teaching like usage of multimedia and music and how much. The Likert scale will gather data that is quantifiable for questions related to the effectiveness of teaching methods. The function of a Likert scale is used when the questionnaire intends to show the level of agreement or disagreement (Boone and Boone, 2012). For example, the Likert scale will be used in a question that asks how, on a scale of 1 to 10, likely are a student to ask students when they are taught through multimedia.

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Data Analysis and Storage

The key themes in the quantitative data will be identified, whereby they will be coded using Microsoft Excel and NVivo. This will be done to test the frequency of a response to find out essential themes. This technique of transforming quantitative data into qualitative data is referred to as 'quantizing and involves using common clusters in the sample population to link the action and the social, cultural, and economic background to the grounded research (Sandelowski, 2000). The qualitative data will be analyzed using Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA). The content of the open-ended research questions will be explored, and their major themes will be recorded in a separate document. The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (1989) transparently states that the child has complete freedom to express their feelings when it concerns a matter regarding their concern or well-being. The UK Data Service dictates that if personal data is being collected for research, it must be protected under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (UK data service. ac. the UK). Apart from consent, this regulation will rely on Survey Monkey to store data, which elucidates that it protects the data under the EU-approved Data Processing Agreement included in the GDPR (surveymonkey.com). These ideals will be kept in mind when conducting research.

Limitations

Loyd (2013) first approached the respondents with a comprehensive but straightforward printed explainer on what the research entailed and what they will be asked to ensure genuine consent is provided by the students interviewed. Second, he was integrated into a class where he verbally explained the same; third, these steps were repeated every time the researcher approached them with questions. If the research is collecting data from an adult learner, it will try to adhere to the same standards and be mindful that they are not addressed in a child-like fashion. The relatively small size and several respondents are a limiting factor of this study. Theofanidis and Fountouki (2018) describe the issue with quantitative research as being not big enough to encompass all the different perspectives it wants to capture to be unbiased research. The study could run the risk of not encompassing individuals who make up the entirety of the autism spectrum.

Ethical Consideration

This work may raise ethical questions. Interviewing students and getting permission from the school administration and the ministry of education are essential data collection techniques. Participants must sign a consent form demonstrating that their participation was voluntary and that they can choose to leave the research at any time. Everyone's involvement is guaranteed: their responses will be confidential, and their answers will only be used for academic purposes.

Significance of Research

Pelicano et al. (2014) elucidate that the immediate concern for research being done in autism is for research to concentrate on the primary concerns of autistic people. The study anticipates that it will help shed some light on the gaps in the current methods of teaching students with autism and intimately identify strategies to improve the experience. It is essential to look at the established teaching method with a critical eye and ultimately signify the educational, structural, and sociological factors that impact a successful teaching strategy for autistic students.

References

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Bhat, A.N. and Srinivasan, S., 2013. A review of “music and movement” therapies for children with autism: embodied interventions for multisystem development. Frontiers in integrative neuroscience, 7, p.22.

Boyd, S., Parikh, N., & Chu, E. 2011. Distributed optimization and statistical learning via the alternating direction method of multipliers. Now Publishers Inc.

Boone, H.N. and Boone, D.A., 2012. Analyzing likert data. Journal of extension, 50(2), pp.1-5.

Borrego, M., Douglas, E. P., & Amelink, C. T. 2009. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods in engineering education. Journal of Engineering education, 98(1), 53-66.

Castro, T., Castro, A., Lima, D. and Bjorn, P., 2017, July. Model Playground for Autistic Children: teaching social skills through tangible collaboration. In 2017 IEEE 17th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT) (pp. 441-445). IEEE.

Chakraborty, D., Bannerjee, R., Das, S. and Das, A., 2017, August. Teaching aid software—Training autistic children through computers. In 2017 5th National Conference on E-Learning & E-Learning Technologies (ELELTECH) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Charan, J., & Biswas, T. 2013. How to calculate sample size for different study designs in medical research?. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 35(2), 121.

Cumagun, C. J. R., Manalo, J. O., Salcedo-Bacalangco, N. A., & Ilag, L. L. 2009. Cellulose decomposing ability of Trichoderma in relation to their saprophytic survival. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection, 42(7), 698-704.

Fleury, V. P., Hedges, S., Hume, K., Browder, D. M., Thompson, J. L., Fallin, K., ... & Vaughn, S. 2014. Addressing the academic needs of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder in secondary education. Remedial and Special Education, 35(2), 68-79.

Furneaux, B. and Roberts, B. eds., 2018. Autistic Children: teaching, community and research approaches (Vol. 21). Routledge.

Goertzen, M.J., 2017. Introduction to quantitative research and data. Library Technology Reports, 53(4), pp.12-18.

Gavaldá, J. M. S., & Qinyi, T. 2012. Improving the process of inclusive education in children with ASD in mainstream schools. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 4072-4076.

Jia, T., & Barabási, A. L. 2013. Control capacity and a random sampling method in exploring controllability of complex networks. Scientific reports, 3(1), 1-6.

Help.surveymonkey.com. 2021. Data Processing Agreements, Storage, and Transfers (EU). [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 March 2021].

Kanner, L., 1943. Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous child, 2(3), pp.217-250.

Loyd, D., 2013. Obtaining consent from young people with autism to participate in research. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), pp.133-140.

Murray, J. 2015. Practical Teaching Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of the Literature. BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education, 7(2), 68-75.

Ostmeyer, K., & Scarpa, A. 2012. Examining school‐based social skills program needs and barriers for students with high‐functioning autism spectrum disorders using participatory action research. Psychology in the Schools, 49(10), 932-941.

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Zager, D. and Shamow, N., 2005. Teaching students with autism spectrum disorders. Autism spectrum disorders: Identification, education, and treatment, 3, p.589.

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