An Irish Study of the Perspectives of Special Class Teachers and Special School Teachers of Toileting Differences Experienced by Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum
Keywords:Autism, ASD, Special Education Teacher, Toileting, self-help skills, daily living skills, life skills
Toileting is a critical life skill essential for day-to-day independent living. It is not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum to begin the process of toilet training later than their peers. Children on the autism spectrum may continue to have challenges with toileting throughout their childhood and into the adolescent and adult years. Although often referred to as a skill deficit, the terminology used in this study will be toileting differences. Examples of toileting differences include an extended length of time to acquire toileting skills, an inability to generalise the skill and significant sensory sensitivities in the bathroom itself. While toileting differences have been recognised as a frequent area for development in individuals on the autism spectrum, it is unclear how this impacts children on the autism spectrum in a school setting and if these differences are recognised amongst the teaching profession. With an increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism and a move towards total inclusion i.e. more learners with autism attending mainstream schools, it is important to explore teachers’ perspectives on this topic. At present there are no studies available relating to autism and toileting differences in an Irish school setting. This article focuses on a number of findings from a master’s dissertation, exploring the perspectives of both special class teachers and special school teachers regarding toileting differences experienced by children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. The factors that aid teachers in supporting children when they present with toileting differences in the school setting were also examined.
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