Presentation on theme: "Links between SEN and G&T. dual or multiple exceptionality The term dual or multiple exceptionality (DME) is used to describe a group of educationally."— Presentation transcript:
Links between SEN and G&T
dual or multiple exceptionality The term dual or multiple exceptionality (DME) is used to describe a group of educationally vulnerable pupils whose profiles are often underrepresented on schools’ registers for gifted and talented learners. DME pupils are those who belong, characteristically, to both the special educational needs (SEN) and gifted and talented groups. In many such cases only one of either the gifts and talents or the special educational needs is recognised. For example, a pupil who has a specific learning difficulty in literacy may receive extra support in phonics but not have the opportunity to express a special ability in science. Pupils with DME (dual or multiple exceptionality) are vulnerable pupils who often never get onto the G&T register, and consequently their needs are never fully addressed. They often feature on the underachievers lists – pupils with ability who fall short of fulfilling their potential.
In the field, commonly described issues include the following: high ability with mobility and sensory impairments high ability and learning difficulties high ability and autism/Asperger’s Syndrome high ability and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder high ability and social/behavioural difficulties high ability and unseen illness (such as asthma, epilepsy, etc) high ability and cognitive impairment high ability and cultural disadvantage high ability and socioeconomic disadvantage.
For all DME pupils you should: identify learning strengths; involve them in all aspects of learning; have high expectations; consider their needs in all aspects of school life; work with them and their parents and carers to overcome potential barriers.
Key notes: There is considerable underachievement among this group of pupils. Pupils with DME benefit from a focus on ability rather than continual focus on additional needs. Pupils with DME are not a homogeneous group. It is not possible to meet all the needs of pupils with DME without addressing their academic strengths and creating opportunities for them to express their abilities. Pupils with DME benefit from inclusive approaches in all aspects of school life including social, academic, cultural and physical. Adjustments might be necessary to ensure that such inclusion in the different facets of school life is possible.
There are several reasons why identifying these children is not straightforward: Assessments tend to identify either high ability or learning difficulties, but not both. Stereotypical views of what gifted pupils are like still abound (eg they don’t stutter, write illegibly or answer back). Social and cultural differences can mask ability and sometimes limit opportunities for the child. Limited information and training for teachers results in them overlooking pupils who are not precociously gifted and talented.
A recent estimate suggests that 5-10% of gifted pupils could have a learning difficulty and that 2-5% of pupils with disabilities may also be gifted (think ‘Stephen Hawking’). Many of these will slip through various nets and underachieve because their abilities are masked by their learning difficulties, or because their ability may enable them to conceal their learning difficulty, for a time at least. Able children can be skilled at task avoidance and coming up with creative excuses for not completing work.
Gifted children with learning difficulties can be grouped broadly as those with: high ability acknowledged, but learning difficulties unrecognised learning difficulties acknowledged, but giftedness unrecognised both high ability and learning difficulties unrecognized (each one ‘cancelling out’ the other).
In order to address this situation and ensure that children’s strengths and weaknesses are accurately identified, all staff need to be aware of the possibility that there will be DME children in their classes. The SENCO and G&T coordinator can support staff in this by helping them to develop a better awareness of the signs to look out for.
A child who is gifted and talented may have: ability or expertise in (only) one specific area (sometimes this may be an area not acknowledged by school, eg speaking three different languages, horse jumping, karate) a good imagination an extensive vocabulary excellent comprehension skills the ability to excel at tasks requiring abstract thinking and problem solving excellent visual memory.
This child may not be recognized as G&T because she or he has: poor handwriting and spelling which result in poor written work overall difficulty in performing under pressure trouble completing tasks with a sequence of steps but can take part in broad-ranging discussions a limited attention span low self-esteem poor communication or social skills.
The child may also be disruptive in class, often straying off- task, and sometimes aggressive. She or he may be disorganised, especially when not motivated, often leaving work unfinished. Alternatively, the child may be withdrawn and unresponsive. A useful starting point, then, may be for staff to consider individual learners in their classes and determine whether any of them cross over these two lists. Is the child dyslexic? Does she have hearing loss or visual impairment? Is there a recognised disability such as cerebral palsy which has overshadowed a particular talent? A closer look:
G&T pupils with sensory and physical impairment These pupils often underachieve at school, their abilities underestimated by teachers and peers alike. Obviously, a sensory or physical impairment does not mean that a child’s cognitive functioning is in any way impaired, and often these youngsters have to be incredibly resourceful just to be able to function in everyday situations. Talk to parents, talk to the child; see beyond the disability. Put into place as much support as possible to alleviate the barriers to achievement caused by the sensory/physical impairment (large print, magnifiers, Braille; sign language, sound field equipment; communication/recording aids). Find ways of unlocking the gifts and talents that are often buried inside bodies that do not work in a ‘normal’ way: this might involve looking carefully at the various tests you use to measure ability and being creative in expanding the range of opportunities offered to pupils to enable them to excel.
Hearing impairment Key considerations ● Tasks should be presented clearly. ● Allow flexibility both in the type of response and in the way the response is presented. ● Pupil’s attention and understanding should be monitored frequently. ● Maintain a good lesson pace. ● Visualise the learning when appropriate and present materials in a variety of ways.
Specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyscalculia) There is a much greater awareness these days of dyslexia (and to a lesser extent dyscalculia) and the fact that individuals with these conditions, may be extremely creative and excellent verbal communicators. It is still the case, however, that many children come to the attention of educational psychologists for emotional and behavioural problems rather than their difficulties with reading and writing. This is perhaps a result of their frustration with the lack of recognition of their ability, boredom with the work they are given and disappointment with their levels of achievement in school. Often, very able dyslexics are not identified until well on in their education, as they are clever at disguising their difficulties. Again, look at your tests – do they allow dyslexic children the chance to show what they know, understand and can do? In the classroom, are there opportunities to use mind maps and different ways of recording other than by handwriting? Is there specialist (BDA trained teacher) support as well as the ‘Waves’ interventions?
Behavioural problems Pupils with Asperger syndrome are on the autistic spectrum and need a lot of support with developing social skills and coping with the rigours of everyday life, especially when taken outside their comfort zone and subjected to breaks in routine. They may be hypersensitive to sensory stimulation and have no understanding of humour. However, these individuals may also have extraordinary skills in one or more specific areas. They need to have all of the support mechanisms in place for ASD, but especially need the understanding of teachers and peers who will ‘cut them some slack’ when their behaviour is inappropriate and see beyond the ‘weirdness’ to the often exceptional talents. G&T students with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be so difficult to manage that their abilities are often overlooked, especially when they end up in a lower set. Some system of ‘containment’ has to be devised (sitting near the teacher, time-out, yellow card etc) but alongside this, there has to be opportunities for some self-direction and freedom of pace in how they approach learning tasks. The support and understanding of peers is also essential – teachers need to get them ‘onside’ and help with positive reinforcement when the child with ADHD is behaving well.
Support for teachers There are some generic approaches to creating a positive ethos that will be supportive to all pupils, but especially those with gifts/talents and SEN:
not What not to do to support children Ask children to read aloud in a large group – even if they are making great improvements they are likely to be significantly less fluent than peers. Correct every single error in a piece of work – a better tactic is to ‘close mark’ a small section of the work and then pay attention to ideas and not mechanics for the rest of the piece. Compare with other pupils – inappropriate comparisons can affect children’s self-esteem and embarrass the pupils whose work is being held up as exemplary. Give long spelling lists – shorter tasks are more manageable and these can be distributed frequently resulting in the same outcomes. Make children rewrite their work – this is the most disheartening task. Using a computer is better as editing is less laborious, but sometimes getting ideas down is sufficient and there is little merit in rewriting without redrafting.
What to do to support children value and acknowledge a wide range of gifts and talents and create an environment in which these can flourish get to know students as individuals; talk to them about their strengths and learning needs; talk to supporting TAs who will know individuals very well. talk explicitly about different types of ability and ways of learning in the classroom use humour (laughing with pupils, not at them) develop high quality thinking and questioning for all pupils: explore – discuss – reflect – share attend to weaknesses but also exploit and celebrate a pupil’s strengths; have high expectations and encourage students to embrace challenge model positive attitudes about disability and ‘difference’ help pupils to develop self-knowledge and a sense of self-worth use positive role models – people with SEN/disability who have been successful in different walks of life.
Credits Mary Pfeiffer G&T Consultant to Primary Schools Linda Evans: She was a teacher/SENCO/adviser/inspector, before joining the publishing world. She now works as a freelance writer, editor and part-time college tutor. Oxford Brooks University