Children with Autism in mass-schools in Romania

In mass-schools children with autism are yet in a small number, but the teachers are more open to train themselves for helping the kids fit in.

In Romania the number of children with autism that are schooled is still much reduced in Romania. In an uncertain context – there is no official data regarding the total number of people with autism in our country, however it is estimated based on data prevalence International, talking about 15,000 people – figures whichare still alarming: according to the Ministry of Education, only 1,560 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Romania were enrolled in mainstream education or especially for the school year 2012-2013

According to data from the General Directorates for Social Assistance and Child Protection in Bucharest – district 4 of 9 counties – Bacau, Botosani, Braila, Neamt , Prahova, Suceava , Tulcea, Vaslui , Vrancea – in 485 children with autism school age, registered in the 10 centers opened within those institutions TSA, 412 children ( 85 % of registered children ) are not enrolled in any form of education.

The causes of reduced enrollment of children with autism consist in bring poorly prepared for the meeting with the school environment and the low educational school environment for integration of pupils with the condition.

The study of public attitudes to autism, conducted in 2011 Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation , Gallup and D & D Research shows that teachers have different reactions towards the child with autism, from compassion to rejection.

Rejection appears out of the fear in making mistakes in  relation with the child or because of the fear that the attention and resources orientated torwards the child with autism could determine neglecting the other children’ needs. Teachers recognize, in most cases  they do not feel sufficiently prepared to cope with children with autism. Also, due to lack of information about the disease and fear that parents of typical collective presence of a child with autism may drop the class or jeopardize the physical integrity of other children. The same study shows that among the reasons for reticence on school integration of children with autism are alike, absence of a special curriculum and inadequate equipping of schools.
This fall, 108 teachers were trained in the work with children with autism in the classroom

This year, the Romanian Angel Appeal and Diagnostic Center and Counseling in Iceland organized a specialized training for teachers, which provided more detailed information about autism and the way in which children with autism perceive the world and concrete techniques work classroom. The course was organized within the project “Community ready, integrated child – support for school and social integration of children with autism spectrum disorders “funded by grants SEE 2009 – 2014 , within the Fund in Romania . The project is conducted by the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation in partnership with the Center for Diagnosis and Counseling in Iceland, with DGASPC sector 4 Bucharest and DGASPC in Bacau, Botosani , Braila, Neamt , Prahova, Suceava , Tulcea, Vaslui and Vrancea .

108 teachers in Bucharest and in the nine counties – teachers in mainstream schools and special teachers and support teachers – have participated in the training which involved three days of theoretical and practical training . In a least one classroom there was a child with autism. The topics included information about affection and practical information on the activities and structure of the game, communication, organization of children’s free time, how can a classroom be organized, collaboration between professionals , problem solving, evaluation . Participating teachers were selected based on online applications – whose number was much higher than expected –  the motivation criterion is determination.

What are the trained teachers saying?

“it is required a great need for all the teachers to be informed on problems generated by autism and there’s a great need that the problem of children with ASD to be understood globally.”

“Before attending classes , the knowledge about children affected by autism  was  incomplete . Apart from a few articles read on the internet, I did not go through any other scientific work related to this issue.

Last year (2014 – 2015), I took a girl with autism in the class. She’s the only child with autism that I’ve worked with. The hardest thing to do was to make her fit in the class previously formed. The acceptance of the girl required a long period , because her behavior in class was different from the others.
Everything I learned in courses this fall was new to me. My information was helpful and gave me answers to the issues I’m facing. Icelandic formers techniques presented to me seemed very well organized, innovative and practical. But I believe that the teacher work with the student with autism should be continued and family. The possibility of teacher participation in training along with parents of children with this type of disorder would be a plus for their integration.

And I believe that in class there is a child with autism it is needed, at certain times, a second teacher . In the school where I teach there are many children with special educational needs ( SEN ) and the lack of teacher support is a disadvantage. I think it is a great need for a multidisciplinary team , working with children with autism , and this team should be composed of teacher, speech therapist, psychologist and parent. ” – Diana Boboc, teacher education and preschool , High Technology Adjudeni , Neamt.

“I notice a greater involvement of the teachers for real integration of child with autism and a readiness of other children of acceptance. “

“I had a lot of information about autism, because I did a research to write a scientific paper on this theme, but during the course I realized how less I know about it, and what a big research field is.
As itinerant and support teacher, I worked with 3 children with autism integrated in mainstream education. Working in a team of students where there is a child with autism it is not easy, but not impossible. I saw this during the hours where I join the child. I see an increasing involvement of teachers for effective integration of these children and the availability of other children for their acceptance.

I think this thing also comes from informed teachers regarding this affection. Significant issues still are with the parents of other children in class, that manifests inappropriate attitude torwards children with autism (not all of them, obvious). At the fall course, I’ve found out a lot of practical information, but also theoretical.

The videos presented helped me to understand better what is manifested in some way the autistic child and that is the most appropriate strain relief of a situation. And I understand that it takes more patience with these children. Intervention methods presented demonstrate that using them correctly, we can form these children to independent living skills. Some of the materials submitted (images, chips , image zone and many other things) we could use in activities, but modality structured on centers of interest will be more difficult to implement in the Romanian education.
It takes more than teaching materials, teachers and professors more tolerant colleagues and parents more informed and willing to accept diversity. Support from the school we have; We are made available for reeling of activities of recovery therapy – space, printer, computer. But without supportive teachers, we have assigned more schools, the groups are plenty and filled with children in recovery therapeutic program and we cannot assure sufficient time for everyone, for the therapy to be efficient. Working in a multidisciplinary team would be ideal and healthy for them. They need a support teacher, a speech therapist, school counselor, psychologist, doctor, parent” – Gabi Lavric, itinerant and support teacher.

“We can all admit that it’s not so easy to work with these kids, but once organized, you own more work techniques you succeed in what you’ve done and you feel spiritually rewarded.

I didn’t know much about autism until I attended this class. I knew some basic elements presented to me in college. Last year, I didn’t have a kid with autism in the class, but in the year 2015-2016, I had 3 with autism.  After this class, I can say that I dealt much better with them, and learnt new useful things. I gathered new and very clear info. I learnt new methods that are effective in my class. I like the way the course was organized, materials were well structured, the trainers helped us understand what it really means to have a child with autism in class and how to work with him.

It was a well structured course from all points of view, and receiving information, also the fact that they came in electronic format, I could share to my colleagues in schools. To work more efficiently with these kids, though, I would need more materials.School support us with necessary materials, the space is enough, but I can’t say that I don’t need more space or resources.Teamwork and teamplayers are an important part to obtain the results you want. “–Constantin-Ioan Papuc, teacher,Sportive Highschool  Suceava.

“To integrate a child with ASD in mainstream school requires a multidisciplinary team , but to be an involved and functional team.”
“We had enough general information about the incidence of autism among children and direct problems about fiting them in mainstream schools – I graduated in Sociology. I worked with three autistic children, in which two of whom were highly functional.  Challenges appear because of the lack of the personnel in schools. (no child from the ones I worked with had a companion teacher.  It’s hard to be there for children with problems and for typical ones.

There’s not enough time to properly take care of all the problems in the classroom. I liked very much how experienced lecturers presented the issue about these kids, how they convinced us to put an emphasis on the routine of children with ASD and to use what interest to them including teaching lessons (eg , II learn countries or continents in the breeds of dogs.)

Everytime, trainers had prepared all sorts of practical examples and especially applicable to our case. The practical exercises helped me very much to assimilate better what it has been teached and the materials for visual support of children with ASD, electronic received, are really usefull. After a course I tried to organize a bit the space, to be more appropriate for children with problems.

I think autism is so complex that we will never be fully prepared to be up to all the challenges.
But I also believe that all these courses have a practical component that helps us doing increasingly better, to understand and to treat properly all these students with ASD. We’re now missing ( and primarily ) financial resources for materials and arranging rooms and staffing . The school is involved as much as it can.
It is a great need for all teachersto be informed about the problems of autism and is a great need for the issue of children with ASD to be understood worldwide. It is concerning that the number of affected children is growing bigger from one year to another and that we are so unprepared to assure the right educational environment. (here it’s not about special schools, because many asd kids are not right for this kind of schools, with a little help they can manage in a mainstream school. To integrate an ASD child in mainstream school, it is required a multidisciplinary team, but also functional and involved. I see it made up by parents, teacher, professors, support teacher, sport teacher, etc. This team will collaborate with unit director (for approving various programs etc) the president of parents committee (for awareness among parents, school librarian  and auxiliary personnel.” – Manuela Cernat-Isachi, Gymnasium Schoolnr. 117, Bucharest.

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