ERG SES C 11, Inclusive Education
In the last decades an increasing importance in school inclusion have been questioned by Specific Learning Disabilities students (SpLD). SpLD identification criteria are specified by international classifications (ICD10 and DSMV) and in Italy, since 2007, by National guidelines (Italian Consensus Conference and Raccomandazioni cliniche sui DSA (PAARC). In the meanwhile, a specific Italian Law (170/2010) define rights of students with SpLD and guidelines for education, mainly based on compensatory tools and reductive measures.
In spite of the supports provided, students’ attitude towards school, motivation, acceptance of proper measures have often a poor quality. In daily educative work with such students, we can observe school failure, refusing help and support; some risk an “adhesiveness” of self-representation with SpLD image, an iper-razionalization, behaviours of rebellion, aggression, provocation, social isolation, as we described in previous researches supposing a more widespread existential worrying for those students expressed denying the SpLD influence or existence in their life (Lampugnani, Ferrazzi, 2018). Other international studies confirm that young adults with SpLD define it an “hidden disability: that they don’t identify with the term “disability” or “disease”; they would imagine to change the word dys-lexia (Elliot 2005); are observed attitudes of denial (McNulty, 2003) and disavowal.
Pupils with SpLD have a mayor risk for psychopathological diseases (Vecchini, 2010) and for early drop out from school or failing in learning process.
The line of research developed in English speaking countries especially with Spreen (1982) and evolved in more recent researches, analysed life histories focusing on protection factors and vulnerability factors (McNulty, 2003; Gibson and Kendal 2010; Ruggerini (2013; 2016); Frassinetti (2012).
Moreover, there are very few references involving the “voice” of students and it is recommended to enlarge researches based on life history and educational experiences, inviting to involve the “wise” of individual experience (Pollack, 2013), often ignored by neuropsychological research, and an “ethical and meaningful access to students’ voice” (Goode, 2007).
Our research is intended to refer to concepts proposed by disability studies (Medeghini, 2015), such as social model of health (McNulty 2003), the stigma (Goffman, 1963), the definition of “norma”, the “oppressed social group” (UPIAS, 1976) based on a socio-materialistic analysis.
The research developed is aimed to explore life and emotional experiences, representations and meanings given by adolescents with Specific Learning Disability to their scholastic, learning and life experiences through an interpretativist approach.
Question of research are: which are life and emotional experiences of students with SpLD toward their SpLD, particularly regarding some “critical” events of their learning and life experience? Which are the representation they have of SpLD?
Methodology intend to consider who live-with SpLD as a “subject” co-researcher, based on an emic approach (Kottak, 2006). Referring to interpretative phenomenological analisys (Smith, 2009), we used semi-structured interviews following a phenomenological approach (Mortari, 2014; Sità, 2012). Data collection was divided into two different recursive parts: the first interview regarded a focused history of life and an attribution of significance to events and to SpLD. The content of interviews was visually re-organized in a map by the researcher and divided in main areas. Emerging contents and main themes were mapped and visualized as well as hypothesis of the main topics. This complete map was given by the researcher to participants through a second interview, the focus of which started from a re-reading/listening and re-telling of what emerged: participants widened and went in deep freely and, at the same time, they confirmed or elicited main themes emerged to make the researcher guided in interpretation. Then data analysis was done, looking through four areas, typical of Clinic of Formation (Massa, 2005): experiences and relationships, representation and significant, strategies applied (by participants but also by parents, teachers…), eventual socio-material context. The perspective is to elicit labels generalized for each participant, looking for transversal labels throughout all participants, identifying evidences, but also hidden significant (Sità, 2012). Participants were 26 young pupils aged 10-17, who have a certification and “live with” Specific Learning Disability. They were chosen between participants to an empowerment programme in a specialized extra-school centre in Milan (Italy), Talenti fra le nuvole. Exclusion criteria were students with psychopathological disease before the beginning of interviews. For ethic issues, after written parents’ authorization, research was presented to each student individually, through simple keywords to give the objectives of the research and make them choose if participate or not: they were advised about who, when and how would have administered interview, and about the main objective of interview. They also signed personally the authorization on a specific paper, separated from parents’.
Data analysis show a deep view of specific point of view of participants involved in the question research afforded. Participants appreciated mostly both methodology and objective of research, and the process of research revealed to be, at the same time, a powerful transformative tool in their educational and life path. Results could give to parents and teachers of SpLD students an important knowledge about emotional, strategic and meaningful ways of living-with, approaching and coping with SpLD. This knowledge, and also the methodology followed to achieve following the present research, can give them and important objective and tool to “dialogue” at school with such students risking exclusion because of scholar failure, of psychopathologic insurgence, of dysfunctional approaches. It highlights what stays in backstage of all those students’ behaviour to make students be helped to discover together the reasons, significant, meanings, experiences that leaded to those dysfunctional strategies and approaches. Some main lines have been emerging in data analysis are going to concern: a difficult to feel their condition and experience as understandable by not dyslexic people; on the other side a sort of a peculiar understanding among dyslexic students; their different approaches about if, how and what to say, and which reactions, when they speak about their SpLD with friends or teachers. And more, a wide range of strategies applied to situation or used by parents and teachers. Mathematics is a field that the mayor part of students elicits as something difficult to afford and producing distress, demotivation, bad relationships and dysfunctional emotions. Other main theme students afford is the comparison between what they consider norm, difference and diversity, and how they feel about measures and tool differentiating them from other pupils.
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