The majority of children with disabilities suffer the effects of segregation and marginalization in different societies across the world. This disenfranchised cohort faces significant prejudice attributed to negative attitudes and perceptions held by society toward them. They are frequently denied opportunities that could help them understand their rights and privileges. Educational reforms and programs tailored towards ensuring these children are cognizant of critical developmental issues such as sexuality, social interactions, and reproductive health are usually overlooked. In that regard, this paper will postulate two teaching frameworks in an attempt to support previous legislation and policies formulated by different stakeholders for the betterment of these vulnerable members of society.
According to article six of the United Nations Conventional Children’s Rights (UNCCR), handicapped children deserve access to quality education from specialized teachers to enable them to secure better jobs and become independent in the future. Concomitantly, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights clarifies that the inclusivity of disabled children should be prioritized in policy and strategy enactments (McClannahan and Krantz, 2019, p. 273). This obligation focuses on ensuring that they exercise their fundamental human rights without facing discrimination or prejudice (Garvis et al., 2013, p. 87). This is relevant to school-based settings, which are mandated to foster equality by guaranteeing the presence, involvement, and success of all students, including those with impairments.
For most children with disabilities, performing daily activities can be very challenging. Therefore, it is important to focus on teaching them only one concept at a time. For instance, a child with cerebral paralysis uses a lot of mental and physical energy to merely maintain an upright sitting posture, thus making it harder for him to perform other tasks, such as learning while seated. A breakdown of how the Veyldf and BBB teaching frameworks can be adapted to support kindergarteners with autism forms the basis of this paper.
Children With Disabilities
According to (Taheri et al., 2019, p. 42), disabilities refer to all conditions that affect one’s behavior, emotional expression, and learning capacities. The authors further elaborate that these physical conditions can be in the form of neurodevelopmental disorders, language, and mobility issues. Disability has a wide scope, covering different conditions such as autism, myopia, and paralysis. Although (Carnett et al., 2020, p. 1384) argue that most forms of disabilities are registered at birth, there are equiprobable chances that these conditions can develop as a result of illness, mistreatment, or accidents, as highlighted by (Garvis et al., 2013, p. 89). For instance, many children have been disabled as a result of fires and accidents in Eastern Australia.
The challenges that teachers face when dealing with physically challenged students have become critical over time. They may find it difficult to discipline them for their misbehavior. According to (Lee et al., 2019, p. 507), the majority of these students express frustration and mood swings instantly, and teachers may find it hard to understand whether their anxiety has been triggered by their inability to comprehend the content or their failure to control their emotions.
However, there is a contradiction in research penned by (Barron et al., 2019, p. 169) on the above issue, thus creating the need for more studies to demystify the confusing aspects. As emphasized by (Landa, Frampton and Shillingsburg, 2020, p. 2277), all teachers should give each student equal attention. However, those with disabilities usually require more collaboration to guarantee greater attention and in-depth engagement. Teachers must assist these students in gaining control of their behavior by understanding their handicaps and developing appropriate coping mechanisms (Lee et al., 2019, p. 508). The section below explains some of the challenges faced by students with autism.
Autism as a Form of Disability
The CDC defines autism as a developmental disorder whereby the victim exhibits atypical verbal and non-verbal communication traits, such as the inability to maintain eye contact and aimless body movements. This clinical psychology disorder starts in early childhood and tends to persist as the person ages. According to (Garvis et al., 2013, p. 89), it is important to evaluate the impact of this condition on education since two in every 50 school-going children suffer from autism globally (Aal Ismail, WeglarzWard and Sarisahin, 2022, p. 106). As highlighted in one of the attached files, students with autism face serious challenges when trying to adapt to the new environment at school. Although organizations such as UNICEF may provide special equipment to help these students adjust to new programs, adapting to the changes between routines has remained a critical issue (Charlop, Lang and Rispoli, 2018, p. 80). Students with disabilities find it difficult to make new friends in a large environment, and thus suffer from social anxiety, as discussed below.
Autism Disability Among Kindergartners in Victoria, Australia
A 2021-based survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on aging and disability demographics review reveals that approximately 2.33% of children under 12 years are victims of autism in Victoria (Aal Ismail, WeglarzWard and Sarisahin, 2022, p. 107). From this statistic, a whopping 51.1% of these children are kindergartners, making further research on this condition an issue of critical importance. The most recent challenge witnessed by kindergarten teachers in Victoria is the inclusive nature of classes, whereby normal students have to share the same class as those with special needs. For instance, many students who do not have disabilities find it difficult to interact with those who do. The teachers in these classes are responsible for preventing bullying among their students while using appropriate teaching frameworks, as highlighted below.
Teaching Children with Disability Using the Belonging, Being, and Becoming (BBB) Framework
Unlike many other professionals, special education facilitators have been registering a high attrition rate over time. Within seven years, approximately 65% of special education teachers quit their jobs (Charlop, Lang and Rispoli, 2018, p, 81). The authors further explain that half of those who survive over the first seven years leave after a decade, thus translating into a turnover rate of 77.5% (equivalent to 156, 335 job hours) every ten years (Charlop, Lang and Rispoli, 2018, p. 81). The reason for such a trend is that the field of special education is exceedingly demanding. In that regard, the Council of the Australian Government developed a model that incorporates elements of principles, practice, and learning outcomes in the early years of childhood education.
The school of thought provides teachers with broader guidelines for facilitating children’s learning processes. Additionally, it aids in the development, execution, and evaluation of quality in early childhood programs and directs educators in their choice of curricula (DEEWR, 2009, p. 9). Its primary concern is to provide policy alternatives, enhance communication, and establish commonality in classroom practices among young children, their families, other educational facilitators, and the larger community.
This model, adoptable by teachers of children with disabilities, can be implemented through different aspects of resources, time, and space, as discussed below.
- Offering special training to teachers will enable them to identify children’s strengths and weaknesses, and interests and adjust the learning environment accordingly in order to suit the needs of disabled students.
- Blending regular discussion sessions into the normal class time lessons. As highlighted in the introduction, most disabled children have a shorter attention span and easily get distracted. The discussion forum will serve as an appropriate space in which students can break the monotony associated with the ordinary lesson format, which rarely engages all students. In addition, these students will have a better chance of making new friends, understanding confusing concepts, and overcoming social anxiety during such sessions.
- Offering a wide variety of practical subjects, including music, creative arts, and design, that disabled students can register for during their leisure time and learn new skills and nurture talents. While at home, parents can teach these practical subjects to them and monitor their performance over time.
Using the Veyldf Strategy to Teach Kindergartners With Autism in Victoria, Australia
As highlighted in one of the attached documents, the Veyldf framework can be used by teachers to facilitate learning among vulnerable kindergarteners in Victoria. Apart from basing its pillars on the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disability, this approach acknowledges that children with autism require different levels of attention and care, some requiring significantly more than others. Additionally, the modality blends different children’s rights, such as the right to non-discrimination, thus upholding the best interests of these marginalized disabled groups.
This strategy can be implemented through different aspects of resources, time, and space, as discussed below.
- Promulgation of new curriculums and programs that would mold children with autism into competent learners while availing themselves of favorable environments that encourage children to expand their capacities and deepen their understanding of their rights.
- Encouraging teachers to spend more time with their students to provide the latter with emotional security, a strong sense of belonging, and basic interaction opportunities. This initiative will teach disenfranchised children (with autism) how to form bonds easily with others, thus expanding their social circles.
- Availing platforms in schools upon which children with autism can display their unique talents and abilities. For example, through debate sessions, they will be able to express their wit in problem-solving, an important life skill among the Aborigines of Australia.
Although many children with disabilities such as autism have been continuously marginalized, policies formulated by UNCCR and UNICEF cannot be overlooked. To support the initiatives of such organizations, teachers can incorporate effective frameworks such as the Veyldf and BBB models to simplify their learning process while helping them fight social anxiety and stigma. By blending aspects of resources, time, and space, educational facilitators will help these vulnerable students interact freely with their classmates while developing essential life skills. This paper can be relevant to students pursuing professions involving children with disabilities (autism) to understand appropriate strategies that would help the latter develop positive attitudes towards learning while understanding their rights.
Aal Ismail, H., Weglarz‐Ward, J.M. and Sarisahin, S. (2022). Teaching social initiations to elementary‐aged children with autism: A systematic review. Behavioral Interventions. 13(3), pp. 102-111.
Barron, B.F., Verkuylen, L., Belisle, J., Paliliunas, D. and Dixon, M.R. (2019). Teaching “then-later” and “here-there” relations to children with autism: An evaluation of single reversals and transformation of stimulus function. Behavior analysis in practice, 12(1), pp.167-175.
Charlop, M.H., Lang, R. and Rispoli, M. (2018). Lights, camera, action! Teaching play and social skills to children with autism spectrum disorder through video modeling. Play and social skills for children with autism spectrum disorder, pp.71-94.
Carnett, A., Ingvarsson, E.T., Bravo, A. and Sigafoos, J. (2020). Teaching children with autism spectrum disorder to ask “where” questions using a speech‐generating device. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 53(3), pp.1383-1403.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, (2009). Belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments, pp 7-11.
Garvis, S., Pendergast, D., Twigg, D., Flückiger, B., Kanasa, H., Phillips, C., Bishop, M., Lockett, K. and Leach, D., (2013). The Victorian early years learning and development framework: Managing Change in a complex environment. Australasian Journal of early childhood, 38(2), pp.86-94.
Landa, R.K., Frampton, S.E. and Shillingsburg, M.A. (2020). Teaching children with autism to mand for social information. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 53(4), pp.2271-2286.
Lee, G.T., Xu, S., Zou, H., Gilic, L. and Lee, M.W. (2019). Teaching children with autism to understand metaphors. The Psychological Record, 69(4), pp.499-512.
McClannahan, L.E. and Krantz, P.J. (2019). In search of solutions to prompt dependence: Teaching children with autism to use photographic activity schedules. In Environment and behavior (pp. 271-278). Routledge.
Taheri, A., Meghdari, A., Alemi, M. and Pouretemad, H. (2019). Teaching music to children with autism: a social robotics challenge. Scientia Iranica, 26, pp.40-58.
Other sources used in this paper include the attached class notes such as:
- ECA Strategic Plan 2021-2024, p. 1
- Veyldf framework model copy, p. 7-9
- CU-ECA- Code of ethics, p. 2