Managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of learners With autism: parents and teachers’ experiences in Selected special units of Lusaka.
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This was a study of parents and teachers’ experiences in managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of learners with autism in two selected special units of Lusaka. The objectives of the study were to: determine the nature of peculiar psychosocial behaviors in learners with autism; establish the parents’ experiences in managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors in learners with autism; and to find out about teachers’ experiences in managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of learners with autism. A qualitative research design based on a holistic multiple case study was used to collect data. The sample size comprised eighteen (18) participants consisting of six (6) Special Education Teachers; six (6) parents and six (6) learners with autism. All participants were selected through purposive sampling technique. The instruments used for data collection were interview guide for parents and teachers and an observation check-list for learners with autism. Data was analyzed according to themes that were guided by the objectives of the study. The study revealed that parents had challenging experiences of anxiety and stress derived from reduced free time; sleepless nights, controlled movements and socialization; self-blame; marital challenges and economic pressure in managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of autism. On the other hand, the study found out that parents employ certain management strategies on autism behaviors. These include being vigilant with security and safety of a child; acceptance; provision of most favorite toys, food stuffs and television programs; tolerance; patience; kindness, spiritual and friends support and showing unconditional love in fulfilling the child’s needs. The study further revealed that teachers like parents had numerous experiences in managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of learners with autism. The experiences were both positive and negative. Positive in the sense that some teachers saw it as an exciting and an opportunity to learn to appreciate a variety of presented unique behaviors by learners with autism. To some teachers it was a phase of experiencing stressful moments due to ever busy school schedules; risk factors involved of losing a child and personal safety; self-injuries by the child and classmates; litigations; and stagnant learning process. The study also found out that among the measures teachers employed to manage peculiar psychosocial behaviors included always being security conscious; furthering own knowledge and skills training about autism; modified instructional strategies; using both negative and positive reinforcements; collaboration with parents, teamwork, tolerance; patience; acceptance, peer to peer support, respect for a child’s choice and interest and practicing unconditional positive regard. Recommendation for the current study is that there is need for a supportive learning environment to curb inattentiveness and disruptive behaviors common among learners with ASD due to boredom created by traditional approaches to learning. Parents need to go through well-arranged psychosocial counselling, training and economic support to minimize on the negative impact of raising a child with ASD. There is need for a school policy which allows facilitators within class to help teachers so that the stressful task of managing the psychosocial peculiar behaviors of learners with autism can be lightened on teachers. Teachers equally need to go through quality assurance training and mentorship refresher courses to equip them with more viable knowledge and skills of managing peculiar psychosocial behaviors of autism. Key Words: Parents’ experiences; Teachers’ experiences; Management Strategies; Peculiar; Psychosocial behaviors; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Special Unit
University of Zambia
SubjectAutism in children.
- Education