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Inclusion in and out of the classroom: A longitudinal study of students with visual impairments in inclusive education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education. National Agency for Special Needs Education, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8576-0153
2016 (English)In: The British Journal of Visual Impairment, ISSN 0264-6196, E-ISSN 1744-5809, Vol. 34, no 2, p. 132-142Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This longitudinal study examined psychological well-being and social relations in school for six students with blindness or severe visual impairment (VI) in Swedish inclusive education. The students were followed through compulsory school, with data collection in Grades 1, 2, 3, and 9. A total of 151 interviews were conducted with the students, teachers, and parents during these years. At the end of ninth grade, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was also administered to all informants. The results revealed several challenges regarding social inclusion, with a majority of families being critical of the social situation in the schools. During lower school years, many examples of educational interventions aiming to facilitate social inclusion were described. However, as the children grew older, the parents’ and teachers’ possibilities to influence the group dynamics and create organized social arenas diminished drastically. Regarding the students’ general psychological well-being, the SDQ ratings showed minor or no differences compared to sighted norms. However, the interviews revealed that a majority of the students were stressed about school work and keeping up with their sighted peers and described feelings of loneliness. Some displayed emotional symptoms of which parents and teachers were not always aware. Three students had additional disabilities besides their VI. These students reported more overt psycho-social problems than the students with only VI. The students developed different strategies to handle the social challenges, for example, focusing on school work and getting good grades, or withdrawing and seeking friends with VI outside school. The conclusion is that students with visual impairments are a heterogeneous group comprising individuals with different needs, and that many of these students face social challenges in school. Interventions on different levels are necessary in order to improve the possibilities for these students’ social inclusion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 34, no 2, p. 132-142
Keywords [en]
Longitudinal, psychological well-being, school, social inclusion, visual impairment
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-151896DOI: 10.1177/0264619615625428OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-151896DiVA, id: diva2:1177212
Available from: 2018-01-24 Created: 2018-01-24 Last updated: 2018-05-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Children with blindness: Developmental aspects, comorbidity and implications for education and support
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children with blindness: Developmental aspects, comorbidity and implications for education and support
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this research is to deepen the knowledge about developmental aspects, comorbidity and implications for education and support provision, regarding children with blindness. Special focus is directed towards children with blindness and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The research comprises three different projects, reported in five papers. The studies adopt different designs; one is record-based and explores clinical characteristics and etiologies of Swedish children with blindness, one has a longitudinal design with collection of qualitative as well as quantitative data, and explores the school outcome for braille reading students in inclusive education; and one has a mainly qualitative design and explores diagnostic challenges and support to children with blindness and ASD and their families. Both children’s, parents’ and teachers’ perspectives are included in the research.

The results show that children with blindness are very rare; in average seven blind children per year are born in Sweden. Moreover, isolated blindness is unusual in children, and the rate of multidisability is high. The comorbidity with ASD and intellectual disability (ID) is high, especially in certain etiological groups. Competence about children with blindness is necessary in assessment and diagnostic procedures, to differentiate between effects of blindness and possible additional disabilities. The results also highlight the fact that the support provided to children with blindness, with and without additional disabilities, is perceived as insufficient and does not correspond to the complex needs of the population. Teachers need more competence in braille and teaching methods, especially regarding blindness and additional disabilities such as ASD. Parents ask for a more coordinated support with a life-long scope, provided by professionals with expertise in children with blindness.

The opinions about inclusive education differ in the studies; both students, parents and teachers point to advantages as well as challenges. However, for the schools to be able provide equal educational opportunities for children with blindness in the inclusive setting, the support must be further developed and the national responsibility for unusual disability groups must be extended.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Special Education, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 115
Keywords
Blindness, comorbidity, autism, intellectual disability, inclusive education, support, braille, children, parents, teachers
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156384 (URN)978-91-7797-328-7 (ISBN)978-91-7797-329-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-08-31, Sal 108, Frescati Hagväg 9B, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-06-07 Created: 2018-05-15 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved

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