London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

The Didactic Challenges of Teaching Students with Autism

Author(s) Lozic, V.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2013  
Editor P. Cunningham (ed.) Identities and Citizenship Education: Controversy, crisis and challenges  
Age group -  
In the Swedish educational context the term "education for all" has a relatively long tradition but the interpretation and implementation of these educational policies has varied during the past six decades. The issues of class, gender, ethnicity and disability as well as discourses of inclusion, integration and exclusion have permeated the debates about and the implementation of “education for all”. Today the number of students attending schools for students in the need of special educational support, due to their difficulties to reach intended learning outcomes, has increased. In this paper, I examine the specific didactic challenges teachers working with children with high functioning autism face. Additionally, the teachers' understanding of students' identities and problems are analysed. The study is based on interviews with six-form colleges teachers working in a school for students with high functioning autism. The interviews with teachers and school counsellors were conducted in a Swedish city and the questions discussed in the paper are: Which didactic challenges face educators in their everyday work? What is characteristic for the educational practices at the analysed school and in which ways educators prepare students for their future life? In which ways the analysed educational institution contributes to inclusion/exclusion of the students and the implementation of “education for all” policy? The analysis shows that teachers advocate individualised didactic solutions and help, extra resources, methodological clarity and step-by-step instructions. Teachers are expected to be highly adaptable and their work often centres on students social skills, behavioural training and socialization of youth, rather than only helping students to achieve expected learning outcomes. Thus, the “hidden curriculum” is here highly visible. The school is described as integrative because it gives students opportunity to practice their social skills and achieve expected learning outcomes but excludes them from general social contexts. Keywords: autism; education; school; exclusion; inclusion; education for all

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