Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Educational Psychological Counselling and Collective Competence Improvement Related to Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Educational Psychological Counselling and Collective Competence Improvement Related to Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper assesses a competence improvement project (CIP) for educational psychological counselors along with three other professional groups: a) teachers, b) special education teachers, and c) child and youth workers (CYWs). All were involved in training and teaching children with ASD in one of Norway's municipalities. The population of the municipality was about 24,000 when the CIP began in 2014. The initiative was welcomed by the municipality's school administration and the leadership of Educational Psychological Counseling Services in the municipality. The CIP was conducted by STATPED, a national agency for special education support systems, starting in 2014 and finishing in 2016. The contents of the CIP included scheduled courses based on a syllabus focused on the book Autism and Pedagogy as well as articles, case discussions, reflections on participants' own practices, and demonstrations of tactics, strategies, procedures, and methods related to training and teaching children with autism/ASD. STATPED chose to collaborate with one of the researchers at the University of Oslo for monitoring the CIP. The data used in this paper was collected after pre-test and post-test procedures, then coded and analyzed in close collaboration with the second author. The third author acted as the main instructor for the CIP but did not know the content of the survey until after the CIP was completed.

A short description of the Educational Psychological Counseling Services in the Norwegian System and The Rights of Children With Special Needs

In Norway, educational administration has three levels. The state level is responsible for higher education institutions such as Universities and Colleges.

Next, the county level focuses on the country's 19 counties, wherein upper secondary education for children between the ages of 16 and 19 is the responsibility of school administration in each county. Upper secondary education and training is a right but not compulsory.

The third level is the municipality level. Across approximately 425 municipalities in Norway, responsibilities include providing ten years of basic school education for children between six and 16 years of age. Basic school education is both a right and compulsory across the country, though pre-schools and kindergartens are not compulsory. Tuition for having a child between 1-5 years of age in these institutions is paid by the parents, but a great portion of the expenses of kindergartens are subsidized by the state.

The founding principle of primary and secondary education in Norway is equity and adapted teaching for all, based on a common National Curriculum. According to The National Curriculum for the Knowledge Promotion and § 1-3 of the Education Act of 2009, education in school is to be adapted to the individual pupil's abilities and capabilities:

"Adapted education within the community of pupils is a basic premise of the comprehensive school for all. The education shall be adapted so that the pupils can contribute to the community and also experience the joy of mastering tasks and reaching their goals.

The diversity of pupil backgrounds, aptitudes, interests and talents shall be matched with a diversity of challenges in the education. Regardless of gender, age, social, geographical, cultural or language background, all pupils shall have equally good opportunities to develop through working with their subjects in an inclusive learning environment. Adapted teaching for each and every pupil is characterized by variation in the use of subject materials, ways of working and teaching aids, as well as variation in the structure and intensity of the education." (Ministry of Education and Research: National Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion in Primary and Secondary Education and Training 2006, p.4-5)

Furthermore The National Curriculum for the Knowledge Promotion states the following related to adapted education:

"The provisions governing special education shall be applied when more comprehensive adaptation is required than what can be arranged within the framework of the regular teaching. …

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