Autism and Teacher Education in India

Teaching – learning process is a multidimensional activity. It is not limited to classroom teaching. Teacher has to facilitate the students with multiple activities and exposure to varied environments. The pedagogy principles primarily emphasis on understanding the child. This enables the teacher to reach the receivers level. Al most all the teacher education programmes revolve around this pivotal concept. Children come to school with different backgrounds, capacities, needs and limitations. Meeting all their demands in an efficient way is a gigantic task for an ordinary teacher. Particularly, dealing with the children with special needs is much more complex task for a teacher.

To equip the teachers with these necessary skills, teacher education programme at D.Ed, B.Ed and M.Ed levels introduced special education area in its curriculum. But unfortunately, we are lagging behind and unable to catch up the pace when compared to the west. To some extent, our teacher education programme has included the topics related to hearing impaired, visual impaired and mentally challenged etc. Even few universities introduced special B.Ed and M.Ed. courses. But so far no effort has been made to include a special and important problem, Autism in any curricula. As all of us know, the characteristics of autism are not easily diagnosed by a teacher who was not sensitised or trained in this connection. Teacher having lack of this knowledge, can not understand an autistic child. Even he or she could identify, it is a big problem to take up interventions. Lack of knowledge in this area makes the teacher to ignore such children and do much harm to them.

Hence, it is very important to develop curricular inputs with reference to Autism in teacher education programmes at all levels. The following major areas are identified in this concern.

  • Sensitising the teacher educators with Autism and related problems among children.
  • Sensitising the teacher trainees with Autism and related problems among children.
  • Developing course material in Autism for teacher education.
  • Developing Autism Assessment techniques with reference to Indian context.
  • Developing intervention programmes with reference to Indian context.
  • Developing evaluatory procedures for autistic child.
  • Developing counselling and guidance material to deal with autistic children and their parents.
  • Encouraging research in the area of Autism in teacher education.
  • Making DIETs and University Teacher Education colleges to adopt few schools to deal with autistic children.
  • Making Teacher education institutions to coordinate with special schools and integrated schools.
  • Already efforts have been initiated and in particular, Special Education and Education Department of Osmania University, Hyderabad has shown interest in perusing such area. Probably in next curriculum revision of B.Ed and Programme we may find much more significance drawn in favour of Autism.

Dr. Ch. Chandra Sekhar