Call for more ‘special needs’ teachers

More teachers need to be trained to engage with special needs students.

There is also a great need for more specialist spaces to accommodate children with disabilities, says vice-president of the Autism Association of Barbados, Gillian Cadogan.

She made those points on World Autism Day which was recognised yesterday, as Minister of People Empowerment Kirk Humphrey promised to do more to assist those with disabilities.

“We are at this point overwhelmed with kids with disabilities who are floundering in mainstream primary schools. We have one special school Erdiston Special School, we have the Irving Wilson School and Ann Hill School for students at [Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations], but after that, parents usually have to place their kids in private institutions because there is just no room,” she said.

Cadogan, who is also a senior special needs teacher at Eagle Hall Special Unit, said some teachers might be unable to handle some of the behaviours of the challenged students.

“Some teachers are just not equipped to manage them. Let’s say they have 20 children in their class, including one with autism who is not coping, is throwing tantrums and not socialising well with his classmates. The teacher has to pay a lot of attention to this particular student but they can’t do both. So we have to equip teachers and we need more specialist spaces not just for autistic students, but those with disabilities on whole,” she added. (TG)

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