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Senegal needs: AVS training in modified curriculums!

Hello to all,

For those of you interested in the nitty gritty details of school inclusion, I will detail today one element that is vital to a successful school inclusion program: Modified activities and curricula that continue to reflect the activities and subject matters the rest of the class is working on.

Here in Senegal inclusion is not the norm. Most children with augmented needs attend specialized schools where they are isolated from typically-developing peers or profit from home tutors (within the families that have the means - Remember, nothing here is covered by insurance!). The lucky ones attend typical school with a school aide (here called an AVS). The very lucky ones attend top schools that create indvidualized programs or have a specialized classroom run by a special education teacher.

Though some children may receive individualized programs, many children here may be given a individualized curriculum that is so far removed from what the rest of the class is doing that they might as well not be included in the regular classroom at all. Either that, or they are kept in the special education classroom all day since they are not at the grade level of their peers. This is against the real concept of inclusion.

At least partial inclusion should occur no matter the grade level of the child.

The child should be placed in the typical classroom for at least part of the day, and it's extremely important for their activities to closely resemble the activities of their peers!

One example:

- All the students are given a page about frogs to read. There is a picture of a frog at the top. After they read the page, they must answer the comprehension questions by writing 1 sentence for each question.

- Your student is at a different academic level, so he gets a sheet with just a couple sentences about frogs. Depending on his level, he can: 1) copy the sentences 2) read the sentences 3) draw a frog 4) simply color a frog already drawn 5) at the end, talk to his peer buddy next to him about frogs, or 6) orally answer some questions about frogs given by his aide.

In this example, the child is still completely included in the activity - just his own level! (I also threw in some peer interaction, which is always an important goal).

Left: A classroom activity

Right: The student's activity

Here's the tricky part for Senegal: At the moment, Senegal lacks intensive AVS (school aide) training and supervision by special educators, BCBAs, or other professionals This means that AVS's are not able to be trained to modify activities for their students. (Since it's very difficult for most teachers to do this, this task will often fall to the AVS). The teachers are also usually unable to send over their activities for the day ahead of time which could help with planning (due to time constraints and lack of an internet connection), so the AVS must then create modified activities on the fly within 5 minutes the activity is introduced to the rest of the students. This is hard to do! It requires quick, on-your-feet creativity, a knowledge of some options for activity components, knowledge of academic skill sets and milestones, and knowledge of the child's own academic level in comparison to his peers.

Though this type of supervision has already been carried out by ABA Senegal for individual students and their aides, ABA Senegal's projected activities include supporting regular AVS trainings and promoting true inclusion within schools in Senegal.


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