Going the extra mile for special-needs kids

The law is clear, a child with a disability must be allowed to attend school, yet many schools discriminate such children, or are reluctant to take them in for various reasons.

STARTING school for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for parents and their children.

Parents are anxious if their child will fit in, while the fears a child may have about school can be just as intimidating.

They can be apprehensive about being separated from their parents, riding the school bus, meeting a new teacher or even making new friends.

Take Ibrahim* for instance, he was worried that his daughter Nurul who was about to start schooling would not adjust well to her new environment. He decided that he would go to the school and snap some photos of the school layout and the facilities available there.

He then compiled the pictures into a “social story” to explain and familiarise Nurul to the environment she was going to be in.

While the doting dad may seem to have gone overboard with his actions, there was a reason for him to do so — his daughter had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

People with autism spectrum disorder have a strong preference for routines and Ibrahim’s effort in repeatedly telling the “social story” was to prepare Nurul for her new school life.

A “social story” is a strategy developed by Carol Gray, an educational consultant and autism teaching expert. Her primary objective is to prepare individuals with the condition (autism) for social interactions through social instructions and expressions in a defined style and format.

Ibrahim had also explained to the school authorities of her condition. Since teachers were already informed, they went the extra mile in providing the necessary assistance and even roped in her classmates to help her out.

Now in Year Three, the girl doesn’t seem to have problems completing her homework and has been doing well in all her tests.

Like most of her peers, she gets help from tuition classes after school.

Ibrahim is grateful for the support he’s had from school authorities.

Being the adorable child she is, Nurul’s teachers and even the canteen assistants or mak chiks are always looking out for her. Even the school’s security guard keeps an eye on her as she waits for her father after school every day.

by Kang Soon Chen.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Education/2014/02/23/Going-the-extra-mile-for-specialneeds-kids/

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