Learning Plan 19
THECREATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION OF A LEARNING PLAN FORCHILDREN WITH AUTISM
Thecreation, Implementation and evaluation of a learning plan forchildren with autism
Alearning plan is a systematic order of learning achievements that areto be achieved within a given period. A learning plan helps thelearner to keep track of what he intends to learn within a specifictime and the actual achievement of the goals. An effective plan isone that has achievable goals and takes into account all the learningcircumstances that affect the learning process. A learning plan iseffective for learners with special needs as it allows both thelearner and the tutor to achieve specified goals. This paper shalldiscuss a learning plan for a child with autism.
Autismis a condition in which a child does not develop social skills suchas verbal and non- verbal communication as expected. Autism makes ithard for a child to learn things based on their expected ages oflearning (Volkmar, Chawarska & Klin 2005). This paper shalldiscuss the case of child D who has been put under an IEP program.The evaluation shall be based on the effectiveness and applicabilityof the program. The program has set goals and objectives and eachwill be evaluated as the program progresses. The child has been underobservation for one month and the progress has been positive asexpected. The first step is to help child D to feel comfortable andlearn to identify and pronounce basic things in the environment. Thechild learns to identify those things that he interacts with on adaily basis so as to retain them in memory (Holt 2000). According toPiaget, a child is born with basic biological cognitive features thatdevelop over the years.
Thepurpose of this learning plan is to enable child D to learn how toread and pronounce words. The first step is to set goals, which inthis case is to achieve basic reading and speaking skills within oneyear (Volkmar, Chawarska & Klin 2005). The child will be requiredto learn how to pronounce basic words of objects in the child’senvironment. This is because according to Piaget, a child learns byorganizing knowledge in schemas. The schemas are mentalrepresentation of things in the child’s environment. The learningof items in the child’s environment forms a schema of things childD can easily identify (Demetriou & Raftopoulos 2005). The childlearns to identify things in the environment and learns to retrievethis knowledge when necessary.
Thenext step will be to identify things in child D’s environment andretrieve them by learning how to draw the items. This helps the childto identify the items even in different environments away from theactual learning environment (Demetriou & Raftopoulos 2005). Thisshould include an exercise where child D is required to identifysimilar items in different environments correctly. This is becauseaccording to Vygotsky, learning occurs in the region between adultguidance and independent identification of things learned. This iscalled the zone of proximal development (ZPD). This is the actuallearning process and it indicates that the child has formed schemasthat help in storing memory.
ChildD is required to draw and pronounce the items to indicate actuallearning and the ability to retain what is learned. This isfacilitated through individualised learning so as to help thechildren in their unique areas of difficulties (Demetriou &Raftopoulos 2005). Individualized learning helps the teacher andlearning support workers to identify those things that cause learningdifficulty so as to help child D to overcome the barrierssuccessfully (Holt 2000). This also helps the child to gainconfidence when learning and learn because he is not engaged in acompetitive environment that creates tension and inhibits the abilityto learn comfortably.
Drawinghas been identified as a suitable way of helping children with autismlearn as it involves basic sensory motor skills that lead toreproduction of images as visually identified. The purpose is to linkthe visual, the cognitive and the oral capabilities of the child.Once the child learns basic things in the environment, therequirement of identifying similar things in different environmentleads to assimilation. According to Piaget, assimilation is theprocess by which the child uses the schemas already formed to dealwith new objects. This is the case in which the child identifiessimilar objects in new environment (Holt 2000). These objects couldbe in different colours, but the child still has the ability toassociate the object with existing schemas.
Thenext step is to have child D learn how to write down the words hepronounces. This social learning process facilitates basic humaninteractions through use of words. Verbal and non- verbalcommunication are important interaction skills as they help child Dto learn and share knowledge through social environment. According toVygotsky social interaction facilitates cognitive development (Smidt2009). This is because the process of learning occurs in two levelsthe interpsychological level, learning between people, and theintrapsychological level, which is internal learning (Smidt 2009).The ability of the child to identify and pronounce items facilitatessocial interaction, which leads to cognitive development. Writingfacilitates non- verbal communication.
Thelearning process should take into account the child’s personalitytype. Autistic children have different personality types just likeother learners that play a role in learning. According to MyerBriggs, there are four scales of personality that interact with theperson’s environment so as to facilitate learning. The extrovertedlearners are interested in action learning. This is the most suitablemeans of teaching a child with autism by helping the child tophysically and actively identify objects and items or actions. Theintroverted learner learns by having meaningful interactions (Bruce2012). This means that the tutor ought to focus on helping the childidentify and develop schemas that help in identifying things throughsocial interactions that facilitate learning.
Autisticlearners also prefer learning by sensing, which involves activelearning through interaction with the environment. The children learnthrough reality, whereby the children learn by using their ownsenses. This helps the child connect the sensory motor skills withthe cognitive skills. The child then makes decisions by perceiving,where the child judges through sensory experience. The sensoryexperience is through physical learning. The aim of the learning planis to enable child D to make connections between what he experiencesand cognitive skills. The child learns by associating thingsexperience through the senses, with existing schemas. If this is notpossible, the child forms new schemas that accommodate new things.
Theaim of learning is to accommodate new things and store them in memoryand have the ability to retrieve them when necessary. Autisticchildren have difficulties storing things in memory and retrievingthem. This is the reason why the learning plan includes therequirement to draw what is learnt and experienced. A child learnsand remembers through discovery learning. Child D is required tolearn and connect what is learnt, with the environment (Sharp 2009).The ability to draw what is learnt and experienced facilitatesstorage of information. During the testing, the child is required todraw items as mentioned by the teacher or the learning supportworker. The child can also be required to physically identify what ismentioned. This helps the child to retrieve what is stored in theschemas (Sharp 2009).
Memoryis displayed by having the ability to identify things that arementioned with the things that actually exist. When a child canpositively identify what is said physically, it shows that the childhas learnt to store and retrieve items stored in his memory. Thisenables the child to learn how to have meaningful social interactionsbecause the child can use words and phrases to construct and engagein conversations (Goldman 1996). The teachers and learning supportworkers ought to also use the reverse, to help the child in storingmemory. This involves asking the child to verbally identify thingsthat are in his environment. The ability to relate words and items iswhat facilitates communication in verbal and non- verbal ways.
Themost important aspect of teaching the autistic child is to engage inconstant communication as this enables the child to freely expresshimself, and helps the teacher to know where the child hasdifficulties. Communication is important as it is the process thatfacilitates learning in autistic children. The child learns best byusing sensory skills such as touching, listening, and seeing. The useof communication activates the sensory skills and creates schemas forwhat is learnt. This is what helps in storing the learnt objectivesin memory. The teacher and learning support workers ought to ensurethat the child engages his sensory skills actively through constantcommunication.
ChildD’s progress has been commendable. He is now able to read andpronounce basic words especially those that he experiences on aregular basis. This is attributable to constant reading and practicewith the teacher and the learning support worker. It is alsoattributable to social experiences, which reinforce the words in thechild’s mind. The child is also able to actively engage his sensesin the learning process as demonstrated by his ability to identifyitems when prompted by the teacher and the learning support worker.His social skills have also grown tremendously as demonstrated by hisability to initiate conversation and play with other children withoutfighting. He has learnt that he cannot get what he wants at all timesand this behaviour has endeared him to other children who are nowwilling to play with him.
Themost important aspect in the progress of child D is the activeengagement of every important person in implementing the IEP program.The constant repetition of words and an active routine has also beeninstrumental in developing his memory. Most importantly, hisbehaviour has improved and he has learnt to negotiate for what hewants instead of fighting for it. Although some aspects of hisbehaviour are yet to improve, he has managed to control his anger andimpulses. Child D’s learning has progressed well and he is now ableto learn and memorize things through simple prompts.
Theteacher and learning support workers play an important role in thelearning process of an autistic child. The teacher is responsible forthe implementation of the individualized learning process. The plandeveloped involves teaching the child using prompts and allowing thechild to express himself. The role of the teacher is to facilitatedifferent learning environments as this facilitates learning viasensory skills. The child experiences different environments and thiswidens the scope of learning. The role of the teacher is to activatethe learning process, which helps in formulation of differentschemas. The teacher’s role is to follow the learning process ofdifferent students and ensure that the students overcome themilestones successfully. This is done by ensuring that the learner’senvironment is integrated into the learning process.
Thefirst step will involve identifying what the child likes. In thiscase, child D enjoys playing with computers. This is important asstudies suggest that people with learning difficulties are best ableto learn when they use what they enjoy, as it captures theirattention and facilitates learning. The role of the teacher and thelearning support worker use computerized items to help child Didentify and remember the learned items. The child enjoys shapes andthus, the learning involves drawing shapes that resemble objects inthe environment. The child also learns various activities by drawingitems that depict various activities (Riding 2002). It is alsoimportant to mark those factors that cause difficulty incommunication. In this case, child D has difficulty in expressinghimself when he is anxious.
ChildD has difficulty in expressing himself when anxious because thisblocks his ability to think rationally and express himself. The childin such a case is let to sit down quietly for sometime. This helpsthe child D to be calm and thus, find the correct way of expressinghimself without feeling threatened (Riding 2002). The ability toexpress himself in all situations by first learning to calm himselfdown helps the child D to learn how to manage anxiety (Goldman 1996).The ability to manage anxiety is regulated by using visual and verbalprompts that regulate the anxiety. For example, after taking a rest,the teacher can prompt the child to express himself. Once the teacherand the learning support worker learn that the child is experiencinganxiety, they prompt him to relax and this helps the child to learnto regulate anxiety for ease of communication.
Theimportance of teaching the child to learn slowly is that the childdoes not feel pressured to learn. This is because autistic childrenare often unable to learn when they feel pressured. The child shouldinstead be encouraged and motivated to learn. The teacher uses rewardschemes to help the child to learn. The rewards are in the form ofstickers that give the child points for every correct successfullearning outcome. According to Maslow’s theory of motivation,people are motivated to do certain actions so as to achieve differentthings. For example, the child is motivated to learn different thingsso as to achieve esteem needs. This is because the child’s esteemis boosted once he successfully learns something by getting rewarded(Waller, Whitesarsh & Clarke 2010).
Theprocess of helping child D to remember what is learnt ought to beaccording to the child’s ability to learn. The teacher focuses ongiving the child some time to answer questions so that the child doesnot feel pressured. This relaxed environment gives the child theability to learn with little effort. The child is rewarded wheneverhe is able to answer a question quickly (Waller, Whitesarsh &Clarke 2010). This motivates the child to actively engage in thelearning process. According to the incentive theory of motivation,people feel motivated to do something whenever there is a possibilityfor a reward. This means that the child will be rewarded to engage inthe process of learning actively so that he can answer questions asquickly as possible and get rewarded for it (Bruce 2012). The childhas learnt how to consult and this has improved his learning andinteraction skills. He, however, has some difficulty in trusting hisjudgment and he often consults even when he knows how to answer aquestion.
Thechild should also be encouraged to consult with other childrenwhenever possible. The consultation process helps to build thechild’s interaction skills and also build his confidence. Thelearning process involves social interaction that is meant to helpchildren share knowledge (Demetriou, Spanoudis & Mouyi 2011).This utilizes Vygotsky social learning process. The social learningprocess is important for autistic children as the child may havedifficulties when learning from a figure of authority. The ability toseek help through discussions helps the child to feel relaxed andalso participate in the learning process.
Theteacher and the learning support worker also use visual clues to helpthe child to learn. In the case of the child under study, the teacheruses computerized drawings as visual clues that help the child toremember what he has learnt. The process of learning is based onhaving prompts that help the child to retrieve schemas that are usedas storage for information. This ought to be accompanied by rewardschemes when a child can use visual clues to correctly remembersomething (Demetriou, Spanoudis & Mouyi 2011). This motivateschild D to actively engage the sensory and cognitive skills in thelearning process. Autistic children learn best by engaging the visualand cognitive skills. The process of using visual clues is importantin integrating the visual and cognitive capabilities of the child,and facilitating learning.
Theprocess of learning is a social activity. The child learns themorality of engaging in societal activities through interactions withothers. The autistic children ought to be allowed freedom and spaceto express themselves (Goldman 1996). This, however, is guided bysocietal norms and values that define what acceptable behaviour isand what is not allowed. The child learns through oral teaching andthrough physical activities. According to Kohlberg, moral learning isbest taught through stories to children (Mcleod 2013). The tutorought to first teach the child what is wrong or right through oralsharing of information. The teacher then gives the child a casescenario in which they are allowed to judge on what is right orwrong.
Inteaching child D what is right or wrong, the teacher uses physicalexpressions to prompt the children on what is acceptable and thatwhich is unacceptable (Mcleod 2013). The use of expressions keeps thechildren interested and it engages their visual and listening skillsas a learning process (Goldman 1996). The teacher then uses this as away of ensuring that the child has learnt what is considered moraland immoral in society. This learning process is reinforced by usingrewards and punishment to encourage good behaviour. According to CarlJung’s behaviourism, people learn through reinforcements. Goodbehaviour is reinforced using rewards (Graham & Weiner nd). Thismotivates the child to keep doing what is right. On the other hand,punishment discourages child D from doing what is wrong and thepunishment motivates the child to avoid wrong behaviour (Reid 2005).
ChildD’s behaviour has also changed remarkably. The child can play withother children without engaging in fights. He knows the differencebetween acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and he can relatebehaviour with stories. This has improved his social circle as he isnow peaceful with other children. The rewards and punishments forbehaviour are also helpful and the child can differentiate good andbad behaviour based on the rewards and punishments schemes.Observation reveals that the child associates good and bad behaviourswith previous stories.
Thelearning process also involves active engagement in tasks. Learninghow to perform basic tasks shows that the child can follow throughwith instructions. The ability to follow instructions shows that thechild has learnt how to pay attention and understand instructions.The child gets satisfaction from being able to perform tasksaccurately (Modules 2007). The teacher ought to divide the tasks intomanageable tasks so that the child processes the instructions slowlyand according to his ability to learn. The division into small tasksmakes the work enjoyable and increases the degree of successfullycompleting a task (Pound 2001). The child should be given rewards foraccurately following simple instructions to complete tasks. Thismotivates the child to learn how to do things independently byfollowing instructions. It also motivates the child to pay attention.
Oncethe child has developed basic cognitive and communications skills,the teacher ought to train the child on how to perform tasks withingiven timelines. This encourages the child to engage in the learningprocess by paying attention. It also encourages the child to repeatwhat has been learnt on his own, so as to reinforce the learningprocess. Carl Jung says that learning is a process of reinforcement(Modules 2007). This occurs by repeating something several times. Theautistic child can be encouraged to learn faster by requiring parentsto ask the child to repeat what was learnt in school. This should bedone in a friendly way and ought to be rewarded. The teachers canfacilitate faster learning by giving timelines for achieving tasks(Reid 2005). This follows by using rewards whenever the child is ableto complete tasks within the required time.
ChildD has made tremendous progress with regard to communication andemotional intelligence. Child D has learnt to follow simpleinstructions through simple cues. The child can now followinstructions and can use simple words to communicate. Unlike before,he does not get agitated when he cannot remember what he has learnt.Instead, he asks to be reminded and he can act with simple prompts.The reinforcement schedules have also worked well and most of thethings that are reinforced through rewards and punishments havebecome easy for child D to remember. It is also observable that thosethings that are learned through active engagement tend to become easyto remember.
Theprocess of teaching an autistic child also involves both parent andteachers. The two ought to use a systematic learning process thatfacilitates successful learning (Pound 2001). The teacher and theparents should develop a routine system that ensures the childrepeats the same routine system on a daily basis. This reinforceswhat is learnt and facilitates the process of remembering what islearnt. Routine is helpful as child D easily remembers what is learntby engaging in the same activity on a regular basis (Curtis &Pettigrew 2009). Routine creates schemas of activities that caneasily be retrieved. This routine ought to change once a child learnshow to do an activity and this leads to progressive learning.
Thelearning process is also essential in teaching the child to acquiremultiple intelligences. According to Gardner, multiple intelligencesgive the child different abilities. The aim is to help the child tosolve different problems successfully. Gardner argued thatintelligence has three different aspects and they include theability to solve new problems by developing new skills (Gardener1993). This often builds on the existing knowledge. Secondly,intelligence is the ability to create something that creates meaningin a cultural context and finally developing skills that help a childto solve problems in life (Pound 2003).
Theteacher can help the children develop multiple intelligences by usingthe seven abilities by Gardener. The first is the use of music andrhythm. The ability to listen to a song and memorize it facilitateslearning as it is enjoyable (Gardener 1993). Music strongly engagesthe auditory ability of the child to learn and makes learning easy.It is also repetitive in nature and this reinforces what is learnt(Graham & Weiner nd). The next ability is the use of visual andspatial learning. The child can learn by observing and identifyingthings accurately. This can also be combined by music, where thechild sings out things learnt through observation. The next abilityis the use of body and kinesthetics (Gardener 1993). This involvesactive learning where the child performs different tasks. This isuseful when teaching a child to perform tasks. It involves givingverbal instructions that are to be acted out.
Thechild should also learn to use verbal and linguistic skills. Thisinvolves use of words to express himself. The use of words isimportant in communication as the child learns to express hisfeelings and ideas. This assists in developing interpersonal skills.Interpersonal skills help in social interactions and communication(Gardener 1993). The child should also gain interpersonal skills thatenable him to understand himself as this is the basis on whichintrapersonal skills are developed. The ability to use logical skillsis important as it enables the child to analyze a situation and actaccordingly (Gardener 1993). This is developed by presenting simpleproblems to the child that involves logical thinking so as to solve.
Multipleintelligences are important as they help the child to learn how tosolve different problems by applying different skills. This helps thechild to become more independent and explore his environment. Theability to solve problems using different skills is important as thechild learns to actively use different skills that aid in cognitivedevelopment (Gardener 1993). Multiple intelligences also allow thechild to combine skills learned to solve problems. The ability tolearn how to use different skills to solve different problemsindicates cognitive development and it shows that the child isactively engaging cognitive skills. The teachers and the parentsought to use the different abilities to help the child to solveproblems.
ChildD’s multiple intelligences have grown remarkably and he usesdifferent cues to learn. This has improved his independence as he cannow perform different tasks based on what he has learned. However, hestill has some problems placing different things in differentcontexts especially those that are theoretical. The teacher andlearning support workers are coming up with items and activities thatconnect abstract ideas to concrete actions as he has shown ability tolearn through active engagement. This is expected to help him todifferentiate abstract ideas.
Oncelearning has taken place, the next step is to improve memory. Child Dhas difficulties in storing information in memory. The mostappropriate approach is to help the child to associate cognitiveskills with sensory skills. This means that the child learns byobserving, listening, touching and pronouncing. This is because theability to activate the sensory skills facilitates utilization ofcognitive skills (Pound 2003). It is easier for the child to learnthings that stimulate the senses that use of abstract knowledge. Oncethe child learns to repeat what is learnt, the child learns buildsschemas that are important in storing what is learnt in memory.
Socialinteraction, according to Vygotsky is a learning process. Theinteraction introduces new ideas and facilitates exchange ofinformation. The teacher and learning support workers can help toimprove the child’s social skills by encouraging the child to sharestories and to interact with other children. The parents can alsoimprove the social skills by encouraging the child to share dailyexperiences at the end of the day (Curtis & Pettigrew 2009). Thishelps the child to learn how to hold conversations and to expresshimself. Once the child can express himself, he can easily interactwith others as his intrapersonal skills improve by developinginterpersonal skills.
Achild’s ability to learn and interact with others is based on hisconfidence. The child learns by having the courage to express himselfand interact with others. The teacher and the parents can build thechild’s confidence by learning to listen to his opinion andencouraging him to actively participate in decision making. This isimportant as it engages the child and gives him the confidence to beopen and optimistic (Dean 2006). Confidence is also built byrewarding the child when he does the right thing and develops newskills. This helps the child to explore his environment and motivateshim to learn new things (Graham & Weiner nd). The teacher and theparent should also give the child time to answer questions as thishelps him to relax and think actively.
Initially,child D could not sit quietly during class and this affected hislearning as he was unable to concentrate. The first learning targetwas to have the child learn how to sit quietly for at least tenminutes then for a whole class. The teacher and the learning supportworkers first talk calmly to child D and tell him what is expected ofhim in terms of concentrating. The first few days are challenging andthe teacher has to use rewards to encourage him to sit down quietlyand calmly. The child learns how to do this within two weeks althoughhe occasionally becomes stubborn. His behaviour in terms of sittingdown quietly has, however, improved.
Buildinga child’s behaviour involves using reward and punishment schemes.This is a behaviouristic approach that uses rewards and punishmentsto reinforce desirable and undesirable behaviour (Dean 2006). Thechild ought to first be taught desirable behaviour and be encouragedto do the right thing by being rewarded for each positive did. Thisreinforces the good behaviour and motivates the child to do the rightthing the teacher and learning support workers also use punishmentsto discourage undesirable behaviour (Waller, Whitemarsh & Clarke2010). The punishment ought to be something that the child does notlike. This helps the child to associate something wrong withsomething undesirable and discourages the child from doing what iswrong.
Theset target for child D is to learn how to identify things in hisenvironment by utilising different skills in the learning process.This helps the child to develop skills that help the child toremember what is learnt. The other target is to help the child tolearn how to follow simple instructions to solve problems in theenvironment. This helps the child to learn how to pay attention andfollow instructions (Waller, Whitemarsh & Clarke 2010). Thelearning outcome also includes teaching the child how to improve hissocial skills for purposes of interaction. This facilitates thesocial learning process. Finally, the learning plan is aimed athelping the child to learn how to use different skills so as to solveproblems in his environment.
Ona particular day, the teacher required child D to sit down quietlyfor ten minutes. The child, however, refused to sit down and theteacher had to make the child sit down. This annoyed the child as hewas not interested in sitting down. The process, however, worked asthe child had learnt how to respect authority. This showed that thechild had learned how to follow instructions even when he did notwant to do what was required of him. This indicated an improvement inbehaviour. On another day, he completely refused to sit down and hestormed out of class in anger. The teacher followed him and asked himwhat was wrong. Child D was passive at first, but he later admittedthat what he did was wrong by relating the incident to a story he hadbeen told about disobedience. The teacher thus, helped him see hismistake through a story and not spanking.
Theset targets are meant to help the child develop basic cognitiveskills by using the sensory skills to learn. The interaction betweenthe sensory and cognitive skills helps the child to store things inmemory by developing schemas that are essential in learning andmemory (Dean 2006). This process is confidential and the informationabout the child is kept confidential by only sharing the informationwith those who are directly involved in the child’s learningprocess. This prevents the child form discrimination. This alsoprevents the child from exploitation due to his impaired learningskills.
TheIEP has brought out suitable outcomes that have helped the child togain basic reading and pronunciation. Child D has impressively learntto use his senses when learning and this is important as it showsthat he can pay attention. He has also learnt how to relax and takehis time to answer questions. Basic prompts are also important andchild D is able to recall what he has learnt through basic prompts.His behaviour is also impressive. The use of social stories isparticularly important as the teacher and the learning supportworkers correct his behaviour by reminding him about characters instories. In overall, the IEP’s objectives have been achieved.However, he seems to have a few difficulties differentiating colourschemes especially those that are close.
Inconclusion, autistic children have difficulties in learning. Thechildren can be taught through an individualized education programthat focuses on the child s areas of weaknesses. The individualizededucation program helps the teacher and learning support workers toset achievable goals for each child according to his capabilities andspecial skills. The best learning approach for autistic childreninvolves use of sensory skills as this helps to build schemas thatconnect what is learnt through sensory skills with cognitivecapabilities. This uses the child’s environment as the primarylearning environment. The learning is also encouraged through rewardschemes that motivate the child to actively engage in the learningprocess.
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