EAP was recently asked the question of what are the necessary steps a school should take in order to successfully integrate a child with autism to school. While there are a number of specific recommendations ranging from minor adaptations to the school facility to human resource development, the change starts with a change of mindset.
Once an education provider, be it a kindergarten, primary or secondary school, be it government-based, private or international, makes the decision to provide inclusive education for children with autism and other special needs, that is the main turning point. The value for this will be reflected in the allocation of resource for this population of students.
Is it impossible? No. But it will take time and strategic planning. Some schools may find that they are able to start catering for a certain level of functioning and perhaps accommodate one child with special needs per class. This plan can start to expand as the school team gains experience and confidence.
It is important for us as Malaysians, as we move towards becoming a developed nation, to demonstrate the ability to adequately provide the education needed for all children, regardless or race, religion or special requirements. Acceptance needs to be more than an ideal, and instead be put into action.
Written by: Jochebed Isaacs, Director of EAP Malaysia.