ERG SES C 12, Special Education
As a paramount turning point of young people’s lives, transition from primary to post-primary education has been identified as a significant and stressful event for many children (Rice et al., 2011). Pupils face environmental, psychological and physiological changes (Adreon and Stella, 2001) and experience anxiety and stress during the transition from primary to post-primary school as a result of those changes (Mackenzie et al., 2012). Progress in educational and social domains have been recognized as the most important issues during this transition period (Ferguson and Fraser, 1998). Galton et al. (2000) however indicated that during past decades, researchers have paid more attention to investigating the social adjustment of young people to the change of their schools from primary to secondary, rather than looking at their academic performance resulting from the change in their learning environment. In this study, autistic pupils’ learning experiences and outcomes will be explored both academically and socially during their transition between primary and post-primary education. Children with special educational needs are more likely to come across difficulties during the transition (Evangelou et al., 2008). West et al. (2010) also indicated in their research that pupils with lower abilities would have negative experiences during their transition. Likewise, transitions are more difficult for those people with autism conditions (Douglas et al, 2006; Dann, 2011; Fortuna, 2013; McConkey, 2010; Elizabeth and Topping, 2012; Tobin et al, 2012).
In recent decades, the achievement of ‘Education for All’ (UNESCO, 1994) movement has enabled discussions of the theory and practice of the implementation of inclusive education in many countries. Policy making and legislation has focused on ensuring the implementation of children’s rights and inclusive education (Shevlin et al., 2012; Griffin and Shevlin, 2007). In Ireland, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) was formally established in 2005 under the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN) to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs, with particular emphasis on children. In recent years, a considerable increase in the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been reported (Lord et al., 2004; Wing, 1993; Baron-Cohen et al., 2009). An 18-months project into the prevalence of autism reported that there are 1 in 166 people with autism in Ireland, and this high rate is reinforced by international evidence (Irish Autism Action, 2009). The number of pupils with autism being educated in mainstream schools has increased in recent decades (Emam and Farrell, 2009). Current legislation encourages the inclusive learning environment in mainstream schools for children with special educational needs, especially for those children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (UNESCO, 1994 and Reed et al., 2011). Children with autism do not like change which often leads to anxiety and stress, and the new environment and new people around can also make those pupils feel fretful and restless (Humphrey and Symes, 2011, Browning et al., 2009).
This study will investigate the history and development of people’s knowledge of autism in Ireland; how the classroom support roles (classroom teacher, resource teacher and special needs assistant) work together in Irish mainstream schools; how the teaching strategies are applied to addressing autistic pupils’ needs and also the school provision for facilitating autistic pupils’ successful transition between phases of education in mainstream schools will be examined. The relationship between school staff, parents, peers and the pupils themselves will be explored, in order to illustrate the experience and the process of transition for those pupils with autism.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design, Harvard College, USA Dann, R., (2011), ‘Secondary transition experiences for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs)’, Educational Psychology in Practice: theory, research and practice in educational psychology, 27(3), 293-312 Department of Education and Science, (2001a), Educational Provision and Support for Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: The Report of the Task Force on Autism. Dublin: Stationery Office Department of Education and Science, (2006), An Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Dublin: Stationery Office Douglas, J.S.W., Topping, K.J., Ker, C. and Smith, E.F., (2006), ‘AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDERS AND PRIMARY-SECONDARY TRANSITION’, International Journal of Special Education, 21(2)18-31 Elizabeth, F. and Topping, K.J., (2012), ‘Anxiety Level in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Making the Transition from Primary to Secondary School’, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47(2), 198-209 Government of Ireland (2004), Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act. Dublin: The Stationery Office Griffin, S. and Shevlin, M., (2007), Responding to Special Educational Needs, An Irish Perspective, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan Ltd Humphrey, N. and Symes, W., (2011), ‘Inclusive education for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders in secondary mainstream schools: teacher attitudes, experience and knowledge’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(1)32-46 IAA (Irish Autism Action), Autism Prevalence study in Ireland, (2009), [Online] Available from: http://www.rainchild.ie/content/story/autism-prevalence-study-ireland [Assessed on 19th Oct 2012] Mackenzie, E., McMaugh A. and O’Sullivan, K.A., (2012), ‘Perceptions of primary to secondary school transitions: Challenges or threat?’, Issues in Educational Research, 22(3)298-314 National Council for Special Education, (2009), International review of the literature of evidence of best practice provision in the education of persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Trim: NCSE Rice, F., Frederickson, N. and Seymour, J., (2011), ‘Assessing pupil concerns about transition to secondary school’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 244-263 Shevlin, M., Winter, E., Rose, R, & O’Raw, P. (2012) ‘Investigating perceptions of the assessment process for pupils with special educational needs within an Irish context’, Irish Educational Studies, 1-17 UNESCO (1994), The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, Paris: UNESCO Wing, L., (1993), ‘The definition and prevalence of autism: A review’, European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2(1), 61-74 Yin, R., (2014), Case Study Research-Design and Methods 5th Ed, London: Sage
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