Recently, the Maltese government launched the first ever National Autism Strategy. Of course, education is a big part of this strategy.
Malta chose to take a holistic approach to autism in education. It is refreshing that Malta does not look at autism merely from a medical point of view, but instead, as a phenomenon where the social aspect is key, and must be taken into account, if we are really to make a difference, and empower persons on the autism spectrum and their families.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder characterized by challenges in social imagination, social communication and social understanding. It affects ‘how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them’. The ‘spectrum’ refers to the wide variety of strengths and challenges experienced by individuals on the autism spectrum.
It is one of the key educational policies of Malta to include children with special needs within mainstream education and assigned a Learning Support Assistant on a one-to-one basis or on a share basis depending on the students’ needs.
This course takes place at Gozo College Sannat Primary. The school is an excellent example of how children with autism are integrated into mainstream education. The school has all the resources imaginable to give the children every opportunity to develop.
During the week, you will be immersed in the Maltese education system. The Maltese government’s position on inclusion, as well as that of the school itself, will be clearly outlined. You will be given tools to implement inclusion in your school, inspired by what you see at Sannat Primary.
As cherry on the cake, you will participate in the functioning of the school for one full day. You will attend classes, speak to the teachers and headmaster and experience the warmth of the school at first hand. A unique experience, that’s for sure.