Perceptions of Teaching Pre-verbal Pupils with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties: Factors Influencing the Application of Intensive Interaction in the Thai Culture

Sri-Amnuay, Rungrat (2012) Perceptions of Teaching Pre-verbal Pupils with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties: Factors Influencing the Application of Intensive Interaction in the Thai Culture. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The educational provision for pupils with autism and severe learning difficulties (SLD) in Thailand has struggled. Families and institutions have attempted to seek an alternative pedagogy to improve children’s quality of life. This thesis introduces Intensive Interaction, developed by Nind and Hewett (1994, 2005) in the UK and from the western culture, as a new pedagogy to foster the fundamental communication of Thai pupils with autism and SLD. There is a lack of understanding regarding the application of knowledge of how the western intervention would be perceived by practitioners in different cultures. The deep understanding of practitioners’ perceptions has facilitated a rethink of educational curriculum development and action to expand the work of Intensive Interaction within the East’s pedagogy.

This research explored the perceptions of teaching pre-verbal pupils with autism and SLD, focusing on factors influencing the application of Intensive Interaction in Thai culture. The research addressed the question of how Thai teachers perceive Intensive Interaction as an approach to working with pupils with autism and SLD in the Thai context. In addition, it addressed which key factors in Thai culture influence the adoption of the Intensive Interaction. A two-day Intensive Interaction training course was carried out in Thailand to recruit the participants, and follow-up workshops were arranged for teachers’ practice development. Eleven participating teachers (ten women and one man) were drawn from two special education settings and one mainstream school in the northeast region of Thailand. A hermeneutic phenomenological perspective informed by the philosophical tenets of Heidegger (1962) was used to explore the Intensive Interaction experiences of teachers.

Qualitative data were gathered in the form of four in-depth semi-structured interviews from each teacher: the first − before the use of Intensive Interaction with pupils, and the second to fourth − during the Intensive Interaction implementation. Two focus groups of teacher participants were conducted after the end of the Intensive Interaction teaching programme with pupils. Both interviews were in Thai and later transcribed, with some parts being translated into English. Active participant observation was recorded in a field note and research diary throughout the period of data collection to contribute to interpretation and analysis. Thematic analysis methods were developed from the hermeneutic and phenomenological philosophy of Gadamer (1989) and the analysis process was adapted from Titchen and colleagues (1993; 2003) as practical guidance. The analysis of the teachers’ perceptions captured the significance of the Intensive Interaction implementation in a new cultural context, their perceptions of the benefit and challenging aspects of the new pedagogy and the importance of cultural values to the new teaching practice.

Key themes from analysis of the interviews revealed that all teachers perceived Intensive Interaction as a worthwhile approach not only for a positive outcome for pupils, but also for an increased sense of professionalism and confidence for teachers. The data also revealed challenges to its implementation in the Thai culture. These included the role of the Thai teacher, the traditional Thai rigour of controlled-based teaching methods which derive from behavioural principles, the components of Thai culture characterised by a hierarchical structure for interaction and the role of the teacher as a second mother. These fundamentals have made the implementation of a child-focused approach more challenging for Thais.

The implications for practice include rethinking education for future pre-verbal pupils with autism and SLD, in which social-communicative abilities are included as a priority in their educational curriculum. Policies for skills training and knowledge development in the areas of child-centred education are required. The policy maker has to formally address the fundamental philosophy and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and how children learn that are embedded in the preparation course for pre-service special education teachers. This needs to provide them with the appreciation of other educational philosophies and to reposition Thai cultural challenges to a child-focused approach. These approaches are urgently required to enable teacher educators to effectively provide a teacher-training course that shifts practice in line with the education reform intended by the current Thai government.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: teachers' experiences, responsive teaching, child-centred education, the impact of culture on education, hierarchical structure of social interaction
Subjects: X100 Training Teachers
X200 Research and Study Skills in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
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Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 10:06
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 14:06

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