Focus: School years
Topic: Inclusive Education
Edileine Vieira Machado
Coordinator of the Center of Academic Support to Disabled Students - CAAD
Universidade Cidade de São Paulo – UNICID
Professor at Education College
Universidade de São Paulo
Considering Ludic Space as a culture space, where interactions, creation, recreation and discovery take place, we’ve investigated its contribution for the development, socialization, concepts formation and inclusion of the disabled child.
This Space is open to children from the community and works within Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, at Center of Academic Support to Disabled Students. On this space, we receive visits from disabled and able-bodied children. One of the quite common talks among parents is:
· Finally it was created a space where the differences don’t make the difference.
· Here, all the children are respected and treated similarly, with no distinction.
· Here, I forget that my son is a visually impaired person and I think he himself also forgets it, as he acts naturally.
This comment denounces the lack of access to leisure spaces that the disabled child experiences, the insensibility of the persons from her environment and that, most of the times, they act this way for prejudice or for not knowing the limitations of the disabled children, as well as either their abilities.
When they arrive at the Ludic Space, the children are invited to introduce themselves and to explore the play areas. Soon after, they are free to play, however, the monitors who escort them have as basic principles the same ones of regular education, which, on the case of the visually impaired persons, are submitted to just a few adaptations so that the child is able to do her experiences. They are:
· the necessity of concrete experiences;
· the necessity of unifying experiences;
· the necessity of learning through doing.
On the case of a visually impaired child, at the Ludic Space we teach her to play, and also tell her family members how they should interact and mediate her plays. Verbalism is very common among these children; they know how to name the actions, but don’t know how to accomplish them. Then, the importance of creating situations on which they accomplish concretely the actions and learn to accomplish them, doing.
The teacher should develop activities that allow the knowledge, by means of the observation and exploitation of objects or concrete experiences, what, in a certain way, might assuage his/her limitations as for the varieties of his/her experiences. For the visually impaired child it is much more important learning concretely about her environment than about things that are distant of her habitat. The teacher should develop such activities in order that the visually impaired child doesn’t remain at the verbalism. She should learn to know persons and things that are around her and behave independently in situations she can experience. Without this direct contact with the world, the visually impaired child may make mistakes concerning the assessment of what is good or bad, what might lead to frustration when in contact with the reality.
The limitation on the interaction with the environment also manifest on the incapability of the visually impaired person knowing when she is being observed by others, what, in general, leads her to be nervous and dreadful in situations in which others can be relaxed.
In spite of all the limitations, most of the visually impaired children who don’t present other involvements learn to deal with their problems and intellectual and social gains (conquests).
Visually impaired children have a handicap for exploring objects and situations in their totality. The touch only allows them the simultaneous observation of objects that can be embraced by the body or which fit between the hands.
Larger objects should be explored by means of consecutive movements of the touch and, in many cases, it is possible feeling only part of them. It is worth while emphasizing, like Lowenfeld used to say, that the sight allows unifying the observations made, structuring and organizing the sensitive impressions, obtained by means of other sense organs.
The lack of integrated and unified experiences, of Gestalt formation, should be assuaged by the masters by means of activities that provide the visually impaired children with opportunities for experiencing the situations in their totality and unifying partial experiences in every sense, what will allow them to recognize how the parts of the object, situation or theme match among themselves.
Learning through doing
Visually impaired children usually have less opportunities of practicing experiences than the sighted ones. Because of this, it is very important for the teacher observing the visually impaired child playing.
It is very common that for time economy reasons the visually impaired child is deprived of practicing a lot of actions, what causes inertia on her. She remains only on verbalism and is not visually stimulated by her environment to imitate the actions of others since a very young age. Other aggravating factor is that a lot of parents are only concerned about the corporeal necessities of their children. The visually impaired children need to learn their everyday life activities, to play, to invent, to daydream, what requires time, effort and patience. Using toys and plays as a way to assuage such limitations is an enriching, amusing and involving experience for the visually impaired children.
On the first meetings of children at the Ludic Space, it was observed that they have started to organize spontaneously in groups of 3 to 5, of persons with and without disability, demonstrating the inexistence of prejudices among them, accepting mutually one another with no restrictions to diversities. From this fact on, three monitors (graduation students – Courses: Teachers Formation and Physical Education at UNICID) started to observe the groups, intervening only when requested for so and registering, by means of quick observation and filming, the toys and plays that led to the interaction among the children and the ones that led to a solitary play. It befits emphasizing that the playing alone moments, giving free rein to fantasy, are also important for the child development. The professors responsible for this research oriented such monitors.
At first, the objective of the Ludic Space was servicing disabled children. However, they always came accompanied by classmates, relatives or neighbors who started taking part on the Space. Presently, the Ludic Space remains open for the community, offering multiple possibilities of play, besides lending toys to users, making it possible for them enriching their cultural context. There were not noticed differences among the play of disabled and able-bodied children. Such interaction among them has shown that inclusion might take place in a spontaneous and affective way. The most common plays among the groups were: making believe (playing dolls; daddy, mommy and kids; beauty parlor; fancy dress, snack bar, small fair; gas station) and the traditional infantile ones (hopscotch, rope jumping, memory game, hangman, old maid, blind man’s buff, colored dominoes). The plays that led the children to play alone were: peg games (pegged), drawing on the small blackboard and jigsaw puzzles.
Besides being transformed into an interactive environment, the Ludic Space has minimized the diversities among children, becoming a path for extermination of prejudice and towards the apprenticeship of the respect for the fellow man. Making available a space like this, oriented by specialized professionals, makes easier the formation of concepts for all the children, mainly, the visually impaired ones. Through dos toys and plays, all the senses are stimulated: touch (notions of cold, heat, contact with surfaces of different textures), hearing (intensity, heighness, direction); sight (color, size, form, distance); smell (agreeable and disagreeable smells); taste (salted, sweet, sour, bitter), elements, essential for the entire development and knowledge construction of every child.
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LUCKESI, C. C. O papel da didática na formação do educador. São Paulo: FDE (11), 1987.
MACHADO, E.V. O vídeo como mediador da comunicação escolar. São Paulo: Feusp, 2001. (Tese de doutorado)
UNESCO. Declaração de Salamanca e linha de ação: necessidades educativas especiais. Salamanca: Espanha, 1994
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