Integration of Children with Special Needs: The AIS’ Journey in SPED Program

By Allen Kenjie B. Mendoza

The Aguinaldo International School’s (AIS) continuous innovation of their Special Education (SPED) program for the past four years has been a success as seen on the increasing number of SPED enrollees the school has been receiving.

AIS Principal Engr. Lileth Cuaresma envisions the SPED program to be a comprehensive one; able to cater to the needs of students by providing the facilities they need and offering electives that will further hone students’ maximum potential as leaders of tomorrow.

The SPED program is a side program offered by AIS dedicated to students with special needs. AIS has developed the program and established two tracks that will help SPED students to cope with their lessons. The program has two tracks: Partial Mainstreaming, where a student attends a SPED classroom while attending regular classes where they are integrated with regular students and pulled out for special tutoring and Full Mainstreaming, where the student is fully enrolled in a regular class with behavioral supports and other electives.

Recently, the SPED program has been given a collaborative approach with the participation, not only of the Medical Center Manila – Child Development Center, but also of the School of PT, OT and RT under the helm of Dr. Vanessa Sardan-Perez. Engineer Cuaresma said working with special needs students pose certain challenges as there is really no cut and dried strategies in teaching them. On the other hand, Dr. Rita Villadolid, head of Manila Med’s Child Development Center, shared that regardless of the severity of SPED children’s needs, classes with them can be structured in a way that caters to their individual level of functioning. She also added that their needs may be recognized by teachers’ and parents’ observations or assessed by a professional. She emphasized that regardless of the manner these needs are assessed, teachers and school teams must implement strategies as soon as students’’ needs are realized. For her part, Dr. Vanessa Sardan-Perez generously offered the services of the Occupational Therapy Department, its interns as well as its facilities to make the program more efficient and viable.

The three eminent ladies also recommended to EAC President, Dr. Campos, some sort of a transition program when students who are currently enrolled in the program in AIS graduate from Grade 12. The President agreed to consider some courses to be offered to these students such as Computer Studies, Robotics, Culinary Arts ad Multi-Media.

The AIS-Special Education program is at its fourth year and is currently catering to 54 students. AIS ensures the quality of the program by limiting available slots to enable teachers to focus on students. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, and in EAC, teachers and school administrators alike recognize the important role they play in the development of students with special needs.

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