A couple of days ago a sweet little girl came to my school to ask about beginners’ classes. She has cerebral palsy, but is still highly functioning. She goes to a public elementary school, rather than a special education school, and from what I gathered from her parents, she is only in regular classes and has no special ed classes. Her main disablity is speech. Have any of you had experience with this in bushiban classes? How did the parents and students react? I know that shouldn’t matter, but the parents pay my rent…so it does matter. Also, how should I deal with the classroom atmosphere? Should I talk to the kids about it? Should I just not mention it? The kids are all going to be in first or second grade in the fall, so they’re pretty little. It’s a new, basic class so the kids don’t know each other and I don’t really know the kids. I need some advice!! Thanks.
- I’d talk to the parents of this girl and find out how they prefer to handle things.
- I’d suggest handling things by treating her as any other normal student. The kids will ask questions on their own when they come up with them. You need to be prepared to answer these questions.
IMO, it’s best to answer kids’ questions of this kind very honestly and very correctly. Explain to them what her speech problem is called, what it’s caused by, and what (or nothing, as sometimes is the case with CP, nothing identified anyway) caused that problem. Let them know that other than this, she is exactly like the rest of them and that they can play and learn with her like any other classmates. Maybe even help them to identify things about each of them that are different from everyone else in the class (Johnny has lighter hair, Suzie is the tallest girl, Ben can burp the ABC’s (well, I hope not!)–you get the idea.)
Then you can help them each identify something that they are really good at, including the child with CP. The goal here is to give the kids a positive reason to interact with this child in a positive way. “Johnny is great at pronouncing new words so, class, maybe he can be a good helper if you need help saying a new word. Suzie is very good at organizing, so she should be the person you ask when you need help putting things away. Jenny (with CP) is very good a grammar! When you’re having trouble remembering if you need to say “he” or “she,” or if a noun needs an “s” on the end, you can ask Jenny to help you.”
Then just proceed normally. Hope this helps.
From what I’ve seen, most kids’ classes here integrate a special needs classmate into the environment way faster and more completely than a comparable class in NA.
The acceptance curve seems to be way higher but a fraction of the time.
Granted, this may well be because her nickname in class is “Shakey” or something else that we would find reprehensible, but, by the same token, the depth of acceptance is more complete.
And the differences really stop being an issue among the classmates. Once you’re in, well, you’re in for life.
I often hear teachers complain about special needs students in their buxiban classes, but I’ve always considered it very healthy. Obviously the school owners only stick these kids in for the money and let the teacher and TA deal with it, but IMO the results are much better than the western obsession with separating anyone who is considered ‘different’ from mainstream classes and bunching them together in a special needs class. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of having to think through how to run a class with a kid who had a disability of some sort.
The parents seem to be very tolerant of the situation, too. I’ve never heard of a parent complaining about the presence of a special needs child in the classroom, they just seem to take it as an everyday situation.
EDIT: rereading the OP it sounds like it’s your own school. In that case I really don’t think you’ll have any problems if you sign up the special needs kid. Perhaps some of the school owners on this site could chime in with their experiences?
Although I haven’t yet worked in Taiwan, I have been in special education for most of my teaching career - both in special day classes and in integrated settings. Based on my experience, housecat is right on the money. I don’t really have anything to add except to note that if the student isn’t getting speech therapy, she would be well served if you added activities to the class that can help her. Some of these can include articulation excercises - blowing bubbles, using a straw to play “soccer” with a cotton ball across a table, and making scary faces that involve lip contortions can all help. I’m assuming that’s where most of her problems would be. All of these things will be fun for all of the kids, and its not necessary to single her out at all. If you want more ideas you can contact me.
The kids will
for all kids!