Management strategies of children with autistic spectrum disorders: a case of selected primary schools of Lusaka district,Zambia

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Busiku, Charity D.
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The University of Zambia
The study investigated management of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in primary special schools and units of Lusaka district. It also established parental involvement in the management of learners with Autism and further identified challenges faced by head teachers, teachers and parents in the management of children with Autism in school. A Descriptive study design was used with a qualitative approach. 30 participants were drawn from six selected primary schools of Lusaka district. The sample consisted of 6 head teachers, 12 teachers and 12 parents of leaners with Autism who were sampled purposively. The data was collected using interviews and observation checklist. Data was then analysed thematically. The findings of the study revealed that management of leaners with Autism is individualized and grouped with the use of real sensory objects, bright materials, music, charts and activities for daily living which are not readily accessible in schools due to poor funding. Teachers attested to using group learning, peers, music, games, cultural and sports activities to foster social interaction. Behaviour management strategies revealed included use of Antecedent Behaviour Consequence (ABC) therapy, time-outs, games, counselling, music and toys which are however, rarely used due to overcrowding of learners in the classroom. The study further revealed that there are no other activities to involve parents in apart from parent teacher associations, open day meetings and homework. The findings revealed that most parents do not take part in the school activities and the individualized education plan. The study then highlighted the following challenges from the head teachers, teachers and parents; lack of knowledge on the disorder, materials and resources, assessment, poor pre-service training, lack of relevant curriculum and specialised professionals, communication barriers, over enrolment, lack of multi-disciplinary approach, teacher motivation and discrimination from regular classes. Therefore, the study recommended teacher and parent workshops to be held to share ideas and have skilled training and knowledge on Autism, specialised professionals to work in hand with teachers and specialised materials be distributed in schools to enable leaners with Autism attain a meaningful education that fosters social, communication and behavioural development.
Autistic children--Education(Early childhood)--Zambia , Learning disabled children--Education--Zambia