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Lesson Plans

Re: Special Education students in the artroom

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Melissa Enderle (melissae)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 18:51:57 -0500

I have been listening to this conversation for the last several days with
interest. As some of you know, I teach at a school that has very high
population of kids with disabilities, ranging from severe physical
disabilities to LD or CD to severe cognitive disabilities. I gave a
presentation at the national convention regarding adaptive art and
assistive technology in the artroom. We have the range of inclusion, from
self contained to fully included in the regular classroom. For the
classes that are self-contined (such as the severe autistic or early
childhood s/p) I tend to do more process-oriented artworks that, just
like most of my other projects with the "regular kids", promote student
interests and abilities. It's nice to have these in small groups and
class sizes because I can really work on the individual needs of the
students. Hopefully, by giving them intense help on things early on
(including finding out what scissors they can actually hold, etc.) some
could actually progress onto more inclusive settings as the years go on.
By giving them a smaller more intense experience from little on, it is
setting up a more positive groundwork in the arts.
However, most of my students are included in the classroom with their
regular ed peers. In a typical "regular ed" class, I may have a child
with autism, a few with cognitive disabilities, several with LD, a few
with physical disabilities (from more mild CP to hemiplegia) and of
course those who have ADD/ADHD or those who are undiagnosed but have some
special need. If at all possible, I try not to make accommodations for
the students. For some, including my students with use of only one side
of their body, they have learned how to adapt for themselves. Yes, I try
to keep a watchful eye and will ask if they would like me to hold it,
give them a slightly raised ruler, etc.
Or, what I have also done (especially in a class where I know a student
will have need for an adaptation is I will make some of those items
available for all students to use. That way the "regular students" will
put some of their curiosities to rest and the students who need to use
the scissor, etc. will not feel singled out.
Students at all levels of the inclusion spectrum have surprised me at
their abilities in art. High (but reasonable) expectations along with
subtle (but needed) adaptations may be all that the students need to be
successful and have a positive, learning experience in art.

For those with more interest in this topic, check out the NAEA book
"Issues and Approaches to Art for Students with Special Needs," just
released this year. I guess I should promote this book. Our district
adaptive art specialist Sue Loesl (and the co-presenter for the adaptive
art presentation) wrote a chapter in the book.In fact, the chapter is
entitled "Art Education for Students with Disabilities: Practical
Strategies for Successful Inclusion."

| Melissa Enderle |
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Melissa Enderle