Chapter IIActivities in the Capstone Project In this chapter the setting and rationale for choosing this specific location to implement this program will be discussed as well as the population that will benefit from this program. The methodological framework, outcome measures, data analysis methods, assumptions, limitations, supports and barriers will also be identified within this chapter. Sensitivity Training Program One occupational therapy student developed a sensitivity training program in response to recognized need from the director of a school in Kingston, Jamaica.
This school provides education for both children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other sensory disorders as well as without in an inclusive environment. This program focused on education of ASD, common symptoms, effective evidence-based practice techniques and classroom modifications to utilize in a traditional classroom to increase participation of children with ASD. This program was ran daily Monday-Friday for four consecutive weeks. Two hours a week was dedicated to education outside of the classroom with a focus on a different area of the program’s purpose, with the remaining time focusing on implementation of learned techniques into the classroom.
Prior to their first group session each participant completed a questionnaire addressing their current level of understanding of ASD, level of preference for the use of the inclusive model and how often they taught children with ASD weekly. In addition to a questionnaire, a focus group was implemented prior to the start of the program to provide an opportunity for the participants to elaborate and have a discussion amongst other teachers about their responses from the questionnaire. At the completion of their fourth and final week of this program, the participants completed the same questionnaire and focus group in order to gauge their perception of how effective the program has been.SettingThe initial program was piloted at a school in Kingston, Jamaica which provides education to both typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder. Administrators from additional schools in the area were invited to the first session of this program to receive insight in order to make a decision on if they would like to provide the same program for the faculty at their institution. This location allowed me to work closely with the teachers and faculty in and outside of the classroom. The mission of this primary institution is to provide a community which promotes the recognition and acceptance of the similarities and the differences among us and change attitudes and social structures which serve as barriers to children that are viewed as different in the wider community. Although this is the overall goal for this school, according to the director, the faculty still needs insight on ASD and effective evidence-based techniques for their integration into an inclusive classroom with typically developing children. ParticipantsThis program was provided to teachers of the Kingston community that educate children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorders, symptoms of both disorders without a current diagnosis as well as children without any disorders. The diversity the teachers varied from their age, level of education, level of experience with teaching children with disorders and years of teaching experience in total. This group provides the ideal type of participants for this program because the leaders of this school supports the idea of an inclusive classroom and encourages their teachers to implement this model in the most effective way within their classroom. Written informed consent was required before each session from each participant. ProcedureThe participants were gathered using a convenience sample. The sensitivity training program consists of four out of classroom sessions on a weekly basis and daily in class sessions. The program was ran by one occupational therapy student and one qualified co-leader. Week one focused on the definition and common symptoms they may see of a child with autism or sensory processing disorders. Week two through four focused on sensory needs in a classroom setting, communication difficulties, and behavioral deficits and evidence-based practice techniques to cater to these specific needs as well as classroom modifications. All participants completed the pen-and-paper questionnaire prior to participating and at the end of the four weeks. A focus group discussion was also completed at the beginning and end of the four weeks to clarify responses to the questionnaire. Outcome MeasuresThe primary outcome measure focused on the participants own view of their understanding of the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Sensory processing disorders, their opinion on the need for the use of the inclusion model in the classroom and how they perceive their competence of teaching in an inclusive classroom. The questionnaire used in this study is designed to measure what the participant is thinking at that exact moment. All items are answered using a 5-point scale (1= not at all, 2= a little bit, 3= somewhat, 4= very much, 5= extremely) and given to the participants as a pre-test and a post-test to assess the difference. Only the questionnaires that were completely fully were used to compute the results of the study. The focus group discussion was also utilized as an additional outcome measure. Data Analysis MethodsThe data consisted of Likert-scale type consisting of responses ranking from 1 (representing never) to 5 (representing always). This data was collected from the pre and posttests of each session. Following each session, the data was summated into mean and standard deviation from each participant’s responses which was then calculated in a single tailed paired t-test with a significance level of 0.05. This information provided support for the effectiveness of each session. Such results from each session was comprised in an ANOVA to calculate the effectiveness of the program as a whole.Assumptions The intervention was based on a series of assumptions strengthened by the author’s occupational therapy knowledge and experience, research findings, and existing occupational therapy concepts. These assumptions are as follows1. Participants answered the survey openly and honestly2. Participants did not collude in their responses3. The teachers were self-aware as well as familiar with autism spectrum disorder Limitations1. There are no autism awareness measures that have been normed on the Jamaican population2. Cultural limitations that conflict with specific classroom modifications 3. Lack of classroom resources 4. Lack of diagnosed children with autism, with autistic behaviors Supports 1. Occupational therapy knowledge and experience with children with autism 2. Three occupational therapists as co-leaders to the program 3. The director of the school is an occupational therapist 4. The Task Force Initiative moving towards inclusion in Jamaican primary schoolsBarriers1. The evidence-based research in current literature does not reflect on Jamaican culture in a Jamaican classroom2. Limitation on resources3. Teachers whom may not be interested in teaching an inclusive classroomSummaryThe purpose of this program was to provide education of ASD, common symptoms, effective evidence-based practice techniques and classroom modifications to teachers to utilize in a traditional classroom to increase participation of children with ASD. The intended population of the study was primary level teachers in Jamaica. A representative sample was chosen by way of purposive non-probability sampling due to constraints in reaching the total population of primary level teachers in both public and private schools in Kingston, Jamaica. Data were collected via questionnaires and permission/consent for participation and data collection was sought by the directors of the schools and each participant involved. Upon agreement, the schools were disbursed questionnaires. Concluding statements were written based on the results from the pre and post focus group discussions and questionnaires were collected and analyzed. Survey packets will be kept securely for a period before being destroyed.