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

References

  1. 1. Canevaro, A. and de Anna, L. (2010) The Historical Evolution of School Integration in Italy: Some Witnesses and Considerations. ALTER, European Journal of Disability Research, 4, 203-216. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.alter.2010.03.006

  2. 2. de Anna, L. (2014) Pedagogia speciale. Integrazione e inclusione. Carocci, Roma.

  3. 3. Andrich, S. and Miato, L. (2003) La didattica inclusiva. Organizzare l’apprendimento cooperativo. Erickson, Trento.

  4. 4. Cottini, L. (2011) L’autismo a scuola. Quattro parole chiave per l'integrazione, Carocci, Roma.

  5. 5. Pavone, M., Ed., (2009) Famiglia e progetto di vita. Crescere un figlio disabile dalla nascita alla vita adulta. Erickson, Trento.

  6. 6. Cook, L. (2004) Co-Teaching: Principle, Practice, and Pragmatics. Northridge, California.

  7. 7. Cottini, L. (2004) Didattica speciale e integrazione scolastica. Carocci, Roma.

  8. 8. Damon, W. (1984) Peer Education: The Untapped Potential. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 5, 331- 343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0193-3973(84)90006-6

  9. 9. Cornoldi, C. (1995) Metacognizione e apprendimento. Il Mulino, Bologna.

  10. 10. Friso, G., Palladino, P. and Cornoldi, C. (2006) Avviamento alla metacognizione. Mondadori, Milano.

  11. 11. Johnson, D.W. and Johnson, R. (1999) Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning. 5th Edition, Allyn & Bacon, Boston.

  12. 12. American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th Edition, American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC.

  13. 13. Williams, D. (1992) Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic. Times Book, New York.

  14. 14. Gillingham, G. (1995) Autism: Handle with Care! Understanding and Managing Behavior of Children and Adults with Autism. Future Education Inc., Arlington.

  15. 15. Swaim, K.F. and Morgan S.B. (2001) Children’s Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions Toward a Peer with Autistic Behaviors: Does a Brief Educational Intervention Have an Effect? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 195-205. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1010703316365

  16. 16. Cottini, L. (2013). Che cos'è l'autismo infantile. Carocci, Roma.

  17. 17. World Health Organization (2001) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: ICF. World Health Organization, Geneva.

  18. 18. Waltz, M. (2005) Reading Case Studies of People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: A Cultural Studies Approach to Issues of Disability Representations. Disability & Society, 20, 421-435. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687590500086575

  19. 19. Milton, D.E.M. and Bracher, M. (2013) Autistics Speak but They Are Heard? Journal of the BSA MedSoc Group, 7, 61-69.

  20. 20. O’Neil, S. (2008) The Meaning of Autism; Beyond Disorder. Disability & Society, 23, 787-799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687590802469289

  21. 21. Zappaterra, T. (2009) L’occhio interno della disabilità. Handicap e valore formativo dell’autobiografia. In: Mannucci A. and Collacchioni, L., Eds., L’avventura formativa tra corporeità ed emozioni, Edizioni ETS, Pisa, 199-218.

  22. 22. Peck, C.A., Donaldson, J. and Pezzoli, M. (1990) Some Benefits Non-Handicapped Adolescents Perceive for Themselves from Their Social Relationships with Peers Who Have Severe Disabilities. Journal of the Association for Persons with severe Handicaps, 15, 241-249.

  23. 23. Grenot-Scheyer, M., Staub, D., Peck, C.A. and Schwartz, I.S. (1998) Reciprocity and Friendships: Listening to the Voices of Children and Youth with and without Disabilities. In: Meyer, L.H., Park, H.S., Grenot-Scheyer, M., Schwartz, I.S. and Harry, B., Eds., Making Friends: The Influences of Culture and Development, Paul H. Brookes, Baltimore, 149- 167.

  24. 24. Smorti, A. (1994) Il pensiero narrativo. Costruzione di storie e sviluppo della conoscenza sociale. Giunti, Firenze.

  25. 25. Sorzio, P. (2002) La ricerca qualitativa in educazione. Problemi e metodi. Carocci, Roma.

  26. 26. Santoianni, F. and Striano, M. (2005) Strutture della conoscenza. Linguaggi del pensiero. Pisanti, Napoli.

  27. 27. Comoglio, M. (1998) Educare insegnando. Apprendere e applicare il cooperative learning. LAS, Roma.

  28. 28. Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2011) Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools. Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Bristol.

Journal Menu >>