The number of individuals with comorbid visual impairment and autism spectrum disorder is growing rapidly. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of teachers who strategically create active learning culture for tactile-defensive students who have autism and visual impairment. Little research exists on the phenomenon of active learning for blind children who are on the autism spectrum. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 10 certified special educators from various regions of the United States. Discussions centered on six research questions based on Nielsen’s Active Learning Theory™, an approach developed for cognitively-challenged learners with sensory loss and comorbid developmental disabilities. Ayers’ complementary theory of sensory integration paralleled the study. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed for themes reflecting the essential meaning and structural elements of active learning phenomenon as applied to children with blindness and autism. Results indicated the over-arching need for trusting teacher-student relationships within a multi-dimensional, sensory-dense environment. Student-centered classrooms with realistic and relevant constructivist learning opportunities should encourage thinking while doing. Hands-on activity with developmentally-appropriate materials may promote concept acquisition and skills which are foundational to higher levels of independence. Barriers to active learning included adults’ lack of understanding, space limitations, and financial considerations. Geographically-diverse professionals implemented similar classroom strategies and experienced congruent results. This suggests that active learning may be an effective instructional method for students with dysfunctional tactual responsiveness who have visual impairment and autism. Future researchers may explore active learning in the home environment. Subsequent designs may allow for a greater number of participants or quantify elements of active learning related to visual impairment and autism.
|Commitee:||Smith, Angela , Nelson, Deborah|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Special education, Teacher education, Educational psychology, Disability studies|
|Keywords:||Active Learning, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Blindness, Multiple disabilities, Tactile defensiveness, Visual impairment|
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