Do we want our children to learn, or are we happy with them just being taught?
in a 6-1 setting which is the state ASD model, a curriculum will be taught to all 6.
There may be a couple of SNAs attached to the class whose role as "care assistants" is to "keep the children in their seats and take them to the toilet etc" (according to the DoES officer that I spoke to in November 2006)
In every class of 6 that I have observed, about 3 will cope with the setting. They will stay in the classroom for the main part, they will participate in group activities like circle time, answer questions, do a bit of independent art and craft and sit at their work stations at work time.
The other 3 will engage in perseverative behaviours, maybe self harm, run up and down the room (and out the door first chance they get) they will need to be held in their seats at circle time and will not participate independently in group activities.
They will effectively fail to progress to their full potential and by their very presence, pull down the 3 who could cope with the setting.
There are many kids who need intensive ABA initially, in pre-school but who will then catch up to the point where they can cope with a 6-1 setting or even mainstream class.
The other half will need to stay in the ABA setting (between 47 and 53% to be exact) and they should have that right.
In a 6-1 setting there is an annual IEP. Individual Education PLAN.
Every year, the teacher, parents, principals and if you are lucky the clinical team will sit in a room (well the clinical team members that exist and are not just empty posts) and everyone will decide what they have to do for the year to help the child get on.
Again if you are lucky the clinical team will get a chance to visit the class, they might meet with you and they might even sit down and actually observe your child, perhaps complete an assessment, and if you are incredibly lucky they will have time to explain that assessment. However, as they are working with 3 times the international best practice number of clients,
(25 -30 per full time therapist) they will RARELY get a chance to work with your child on a regular basis and see their recommendations through.
The teacher is under no obligation whatsoever to listen to the recommendations of the clinical specialists and implement them in the classroom, she or he may try to, but without regular support and supervision it may not make sense. In this way they are not unlike us parents, except they have 6 times the issues to work on!
They will not necessarily prioritise access to clinical support even when it is available and are just as susceptible to forgetting to follow through on exercises that will help a pupil, as parents are.
And I am very sad to say that there are some Teachersaurauses out there who do not like to be told what to do! By anyone, including clinical therapists who went to University for 4 years in order to specialise in a field. They are taught to Know BETTER and listening to others does not come naturally.
Sorry to all the good teachers out there, but I have learned this the hard way from personal experience. IEPs are not enforceable and if the child does not achieve the goals the system blames the child, not the teaching team.
There is absolutely no obligation to adapt lessons to suit individual children and no system of data collection to measure progress. And the IEP is only checked once a year.
Checked, not measured.
Special needs schools can operate this way because a large number of parents, professionals and teachers all believe that these children have a learning disability and will only ever achieve so much. Special needs teachers are not inspected and if only half (or even less) of the pupils in their care are progressing, nobody seems to do anything about it. They are just moved through the system to secondary school and when they are 18, turned over into their parents care, for life.
Everybody shrugs and says "God Help them" and then keeps doing what they were doing in exactly the same way.
ABA challenges this process by saying; EVERY CHILD deserves To LEARN. If they are not learning it is up to us to find what they like and use that to get them interested, to find out their strengths and break down every task to suit, and to constantly, hourly, daily, weekly, MEASURE progress and ensure that the child is making it. If they are not, everybody is ACCOUNTABLE, everybody has to sit down and work out how that lesson can be changed to suit the child.
There is so much more to this, if you are interested then go and visit
Or SAPLINGS, or ABACUS or STEPPING STONES websites.
If you are not interested and your child is coping with the 6-1, and by that I mean that they can;
talk, read, hold a pencil, brush their teeth, use the toilet, wipe themselves and wash their hands independently, stand up straight and hold your hand when walking, stay in their seat belt in the car, never run off in front of the swings at the playground, never try to squeeze the eyeballs out of the neighbour's dog, never open the car door and run across the car park of the supermarket, never try to close doors and drawers before you have finished getting things out or in, never get hysterical if a car window is open 1 inch on a hot day, never have a seizure level tantrum because the washing machine is on the spin cycle when they get home..... I could go on.
Then they are probably going to be fine with what’s on offer from the state. That is brilliant.
But they are going to find it a bit difficult if kids like mine are in the classroom disrupting things and stressing everybody out.
Sorry, but please support the right to ABA.