An exploratory study on how teachers cope with learners with moderate autistim spectrum disorders in inclusive primary schools in Nakawa division, Kampala district.
The purpose of the study was to explore how teachers cope with learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders (MASDs) in inclusive primary schools in Nakawa Division, Kampala District. The study was guided by the following objectives; to establish how teachers cope with the verbal and nonverbal communication of learners with MASDs in inclusive primary schools, to find out how teachers cope with the unusual behaviors of learners with MASDs in inclusive primary schools, and to assess the teachers’ facilitation of social interaction of learners with MASDs in inclusive primary schools in Nakawa division. A qualitative research paradigm was used in which an exploratory study design was used. The study population consisted of teachers in two inclusive primary schools in Nakawa Division i.e., Hill Preparatory School and Kyambogo Primary School. The sample size of the study was 8 teachers of which 4 teachers were selected in each of the two schools using purposive sampling technique. This was based on their long-serving experience of over five years of teaching in inclusive classes. Data was collected from the study participants using a semi-structured interview guide that followed a greater ethical consideration of signing a consent form by participants before being interviewed. The study findings revealed that verbal and non-verbal communication strategies of teachers included; understanding and accepting the nature of learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders using soft talks and giving learners remedial time to express themselves. Additionally, the findings of the study showed that teachers managed the peculiar behaviors of learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders is by simply sensitizing normal peers to associate freely with learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders and encouraging parents to introduce them to the environment that promotes love other than hate or fighting. Lastly, the study findings revealed that the social interactions of learners with MAS were facilitated through involving them in games and plays such as football with normal peers in a group setting to discourage social isolation, giving them extra time to complete their academic tasks and promoting teamwork amongst them. It was recommended that learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders should be given oral exercises as a training for normal talk. In addition, teachers should adopt the sunrise approach for violent and aggressive learners with moderate autism spectrum disorders that discourages direct punishments to them as they can easily copy and apply violence. Lastly, teachers must be sure to promote peer connections by designing cooperative learning activities that require group members to collaborate with students who have moderate autism spectrum disorders.