as turned into a social activity. He only runs if his peers chase after him.

3) Exploitation of his specific interests to encourage learning. At the first moment, teachers were particularly worried about L.’s narrow interest for activities such as playing with sand or sorting objects by shape and colors. However, at the second moment, they learnt how to take advantage of it. They realized, for instance, that sand could be used to write letters or to draw, sorting objects could be helpful in order to learn how to categorize or how to count and so on. Also classmates have been involved in this activities, introducing little changes to well established routines.

On the other hand, we have noticed that there are a number of factors that negatively affect the process of inclusion. Here are some examples:

1) Prevalence of frontal lectures: general teachers (e.g. Italian, Science and Math) tend to prefer a traditional kind of didactic because they consider it more “functional”. However, if the “one-to-many lesson” is useful to deliver a large amount of information to many students in a short time, it also presents some negative sides. Students can easily lose their attention (listening may be hard, especially for children); listening gives only access to a theoretical kind of learning that may be less stable during the time; students with special educational needs may be strongly disadvantaged [27]. Despite the potential benefits for L. and for all his classmates, working in small groups is still limited to specific subjects such as music or physical activity. An innovative didactic approach and a constructive collaboration between specialized and general teachers could be beneficial for everybody.

2) Encouraging the communication: as referred above, L’s use of verbal language is pretty limited and he communicates mainly by gestures. This is clearly a barrier to social relationships. It would be useful to introduce a mutually shared visual communication system, for example, in order to provide L. with a mean to express himself and to be in touch with his teachers/peers. The same system could be used by the family or by the socio-sanitary assistants. Building this communication channel and learning how to use it could repre- sent the goal of a collective and trans-disciplinary project.

The data gathered from this case study highlights the importance of working on the scholastic context at different levels (from physical environment, to classmates, to didactic, etc.) in order to meet the specific needs of students with ASD.

More generally, we can affirm that inclusion constitutes a never ending process that could be enhanced by an attentive observational skill, a constant research of innovative practice and a shared intention to experiment and to change. Furthermore, since inclusion and quality education are deeply entrenched [28], implementing such a process may be beneficial for the students, the teachers and the entire school system.

Cite this paper

Marzia Mazzer, (2015) Inclusion of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Italian Schools: From Theory to Practice. Open Journal of Social Sciences,03,91-96. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.39014


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