“Don’t Want to be a Pet Rabbit in Class!”: Using Symbolic Interpretation to Explore the Challenges of Friendship Building on Students with Autism in Inclusive Education
Purpose: Recent research in inclusive education began using the micro-viewpoint instead of the macro-viewpoint, such as human rights, normalization, mainstreaming, and educational equity, to explore the learning process of students with special needs, teaching experiences of special education teachers, and parent feedback. This study aims to explore the challenges of facilitating ideal inclusive learning environment and to discover possible solutions of friendship building on students with autism in inclusive education through the theoretical framework of semiotics. Methods: Integrating macro- and micro- viewpoints within multi-level perspectives, a multi-method qualitative research approach was used to collect and compare the findings of 1 U.S. autism research grant, 1 Taiwan autism research grant, personal teaching/training experiences in adapted physical education, and special education on students with autism. To obtain qualitative information and deepen the findings, recent autism-related theses and dissertations on inclusive education from 2002 to 2010 were also reviewed and analyzed. Constant comparison was used to analyze the qualitative information with QSR Nvivo7. Findings: Using semiotics in the Peirce system, the findings showed that a symbol, whirlpool of losing friends, can be found in a mainstreaming river, defined as an argument, to explain the dilemma of friendship building on students with autism. Beginning from the icon, deficits in understanding social cues, the whirlpool was formed and reinforced by 4 indices, low levels of social desirability, poor social reputation, low social expectation, and being tol．114． erated and ignored. Finally, identified as another icon, special education teachers also expressed their feelings of guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness when they found they could not help, improve, or change the current situation in this inclusive education system. Conclusions/Implications: The results identified that students with autism have challenges in friendship building in inclusive education. Current practices of inclusive education may create challenges that actually conflict with the ideal situation of inclusive education. The findings remind educators to think critically whether inclusive education provides students with autism the right to have a normalized educational environment or if it is actually an instrument of torture that suppresses self-advocacy of students with autism to execute political mainstreaming in ideal educational situations. This study suggests that school authorities and superintendents focus on the individual feelings and personal experiences of students with autism, elicit feedback from parents and special education teachers to provide sound resources, support their needs, and create a friendly inclusive education environment.
|關鍵詞||符號學、泛自閉症障礙、質性研究、semiotics、autism spectrum disorder、qualitative research|