Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Kellyville

SRE in-service focuses on supporting Special Needs students


Catholic Outlook September 2014: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
Participating in the Special Needs in-service were (from left): Marcia Manning, Vivian Azar, Lyndall Droscher, Heather Williams and Connie Cassar.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook September 2014

By CCD Regional Coordinator for Blacktown Deanery Connie Cassar

In many state schools the SRE teachers are often faced with the challenges of having Special Needs students in regular SRE classes.

On 6 June 2014 at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, St Marys, some of our SRE teachers and helpers gathered for an informative day on Special Needs. This is one of two in-service days the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) plans to hold in the Diocese this year.

The topics on Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Behaviour Management, Hearing and Vision Impairment and with Physical & Intellectual Disabilities were presented by teachers at two state schools and Catholic Education Parramatta (CEO).

Marcia Manning, a Specialist Teacher Diverse Learning Needs from the CEO, presented ways to assist hearing and vision impairment students.

Marcia presented practical classroom strategies such as the importance of positioning the seating of the students. Successful communication, i.e. speak clearly and naturally to check understanding and reduce background noise. Using visual cues, lip reading and the buddy system, to name a few.

Vision impairment can range from mild vision impairment, such as tunnel vision, to legal blindness, to almost totally blind. Practical strategies include positioning students at the front and in the centre of the classroom, lighting and using verbal cues, e.g. always use the student’s name to attract his or her attention.

Lyndall Dorscher, Deputy Principal at Quakers Hill Public School, and Heather Williams, a Year 3 teacher also from Quakers Hill Public School, covered the areas of Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Behaviour Management.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the impact it has on a student’s learning and participation at school. Students with Autism display a range of sensory disturbances across all the senses.  Such as; auditory e.g. fear of loud noises, visual e.g. interest in visual images, tactile e.g. aversion to light touch.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders. ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder.

Children with ADHD have been shown to have minor differences in brain function compared to other children, especially with thought processes that control attention and organise memory.

ADHD is a lifelong challenge.  Types of ADHD are ADHD inattentive type, ADHD hyperactive-impulsive type, and ADHD combined type if the child meets the criteria for both inattention and hyperactivity. ADHD is thought to affect about 3-5% of children between the ages of six to nine years.

Behaviour Management is more difficult when an individual has an underlying condition that causes negative behaviour.  Children with ADHD are more likely to misbehave than other children without ADHD.

The behaviour management process works the same way except you may consider placing an emphasis on good behaviour – what the child is already doing successfully. Use positive language, provide positive reinforcement, catch them being good, using stickers and tokens.

Vivian Azar is a Teacher Special Education, Relieving Assistant Principal at William Rose Special School at Seven Hills. The school caters for 64 students aged 4-18 years with sensory and multiple and complex disabilities. There is a range of syndromes within the school that impacts on education provision.

Vivian provided insights on how to best cope with students with physical and intellectual disabilities when teaching in special schools. During the presentation, we experienced how some small tasks can be difficult for these students.

We were given strategies on what language to use when assisting students and the importance of using pictorial communication symbols, ‘People-First’ language and educational implications.

Participants received a folder with information on the topics presented and resources such as behavior management charts and tokens to use in Scripture classes.

On behalf of the CCD I would like to thank the presenters for their time and expertise in the area of Special Needs and for sharing their knowledge with the SRE teachers and helpers on these topics.

The second in-service with these presenters covering the same topics will be held on Tuesday 9 September 2014 at Aengus Kavanagh Education & Equity Centre at Mt Druitt.

For information about the ministry of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in the Diocese of Parramatta click here

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