Education system has gone through drastic change over a period of time, starting with extending educational opportunity to girls, rural and tribal population, and in the recent decade many schools have gone inclusive in accommodating students with learning disability. This shift in education also came with various challenges to the teaching fraternity in terms of teaching strategy, tailored instructions, mapping individualized plan, redesigning classroom infrastructure and teaching content to match their capability and build a learner centric curriculum. Schools have taken initiatives to train teachers to guide and facilitate a spectrum of learners. Qualified special educators and counselors have made it convenient to provide appropriate curricular and extra-curricular training to all students. But teaching students with extreme Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and other forms of learning disability that are severe in nature is an unparalleled challenge. Insensitive teachers, lack of funding, investments and special allowances make it difficult for such children to cope in regular school. Ms. Paramita Mazumdar and Ms. Jyothsna Sudhakar are transformative advocates of inclusive education and have contributed their service for the development of specially-abled children.
According to the study conducted by Ms. Jyothsna on parental self-efficacy of children with autism, it was concluded that such parents have a self-efficacy ranging between low to average. Ms. Paramita, who is both a special educator and a mother of a specially-abled child wants parents to be accepted as equals in therapy process. Parents need to engage with their children, play and have fun, and not just constantly approach children on a therapeutic front. They also need to take care of themselves physically and mentally, as life could get exhausting at times. Autism cannot be diagnosed during the gestation period, nor is it related to social circumstances. It is a genetic disorder that forms a spectrum ranging from extremely severe to barely identifiable in some. Those mild traits that goes unidentified could pass down generations as dormant and hence making it difficult to diagnose. Any visible traits of autism can be diagnosed between the ages 2 to 5 years.
Educating children with learning disability starts with socialization, interaction, sharing etc. as these basics are beyond their primary capability. But the pandemic was very challenging for special educator and therapists who were frantically trying to adapt to the abrupt closure. They were trying to teach beyond conventional method and faced challenges tailoring home based instruction according to each student’s need. Parents were also given training and counseling. However, classroom post pandemic will also require significant changes in terms of infrastructure arrangements, interactions among students, hygiene factor etc.
Effective measures taken by teachers to handle DAC, Autism Research - SE
Ms. Jyotsna Sudakhar has contributed service as a freelance remedial educator, curriculum developer and autism researcher. According to her research, it was concluded that self-efficacy of parents with autistic children ranges between low to average. Teachers need to be trained to guide and facilitate all children in the learning spectrum.
Struggles of the pandemic as a special education teacher & mother
Ms. Pramitha mazumdar is a qualified special educator, counselor and a mother of a son with autism. She advocates equal participation of parents in therapy for special children. Both teachers and parents need to be trained and guided through counseling to help specially abled children during the pandemic with their education.