Parents’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Early Intervention Services for Children with Intellectual Disability in Saudi Arabia

Academic Paper 2020 64 Pages

Pedagogy - Orthopaedagogy and Special Education


Table of Contents

1. Theoretical Framework
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Disability
1.3 Disability Among the Families
1.4 Early Intervention
1.5 Parents Experience and Early Intervention Process
1.6 How Early Intervention Addresses Individuals and their Environment
1.7 Early Education Addressing Learning Disability
1.8 Education Programs for Children with Disabilities
1.9 Overview of Saudi Arabia
1.9.1 Geography and Population
1.9.2 Education System in Saudi Arabia
1.10 Disability in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
1.11 Brief History: Overview of Saudi Welfare about Disability
1.12 Overview of Non-Governmental Organization Sectors and Services
1.13 Policy Issues on Disability in Saudi Arabia
1.14 Early Intervention in Saudi Arabia
1.15 Purpose of the Study
1.16 Research Questions

2. Methodology
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Research Strategy
2.3 Realist Ethnography
2.4 Critical Ethnography
2.5 Participative Ethnography
2.6 Research Approach
2.6.1 Qualitative Research Approach
2.7 Research Design
2.7.1 Inductive and Deductive
2.8 Types of Sampling
2.9 Participants and Procedure
2.10 Data Collection
2.11 Types of Date Collection
2.12 Interview Data Collection
2.13 Types of Interviews
2.13.1 Semi-Structured Interviews
2.13.2 Face-to-Face Interviews
2.14 Data Analysis
2.15 Limitation of the Study
2.16 Ethical Issues
2.17 Time Table

3. Appendices


1. Theoretical Framework

1.1 Introduction

One of the serious goals of the ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to have an all-inclusive system that takes care of the needs of disabled children. The reason behind this is that the disability is one of the most-potent educational marginalization factors yet can come out as the least evident to the view of the stakeholders. It is tricky to handle because the stigmatization effect tends to lower the self-esteem of the disabled children. Disability does not only relate to impairment physically but also encompasses shortage of capability mentally; cognitive, emotional and psychologically such that society finds it hard to incorporate such individuals in the normal operation routines.

Disability may be an illness or injury that leads a person to lose his mental or physical abilities to do things in the usual way (Johnson 2004). This disability may include effects on a person’s body parts or his capability to take part in different areas of life. They may include limitation of various activities as well as the restriction to participation. With this damage, the person may be unable effectively and efficiently to perform certain activities. It is thus used to denote the significant impairment in comparison with the general standards relatively used for individuals or groups (Johnson 2004). There are different categories of children with disabilities within the classroom setup and school environment. While some of these are physical such as hearing and visual impairment, the others are psychological and include those with intellectual disabilities like communication and reading difficulties as well as the gifted and talented. All of these forms of disabilities require various interventions in order to help the student improve a number of skills that include social, mental and physical skills. (Riddell & Watson, 2003). Learning disability means the lack of ability in the different functioning areas of an individual (Johnson, 2004). Majorly, it involves significant learning difficulties in the academic area, which are not usually linked to physical disabilities. In this situation, the affected child should not carry blame for any mental or sensory impairment. This situation means that the disabled child does not lose out on the cultural development of events, is not affected by the environment though his progress of concept learning and capture is somewhat slow (Johnson, 2004). This condition prevents him or her from being involved in the learning environment because the environment may not be supportive enough to enhance processes of basic attention, concept formation, perception, memory, and problem solving skills. The case may also dictate that the learning environment fails to match the disabled learners’ needs. The causative factor or factors leading to these functional disabilities is unknown. As a result, the limitations exist throughout the lifespan of the individual. It thus creates severe situation in acquiring knowledge and skills at the same level with other people of the same age (Johnson, 2004). This may result in a lag in keeping pace with the educational development exhibited in the peers of the impaired person. Mental and cognitive disorders are mainly related to this condition. They involve a group of disorders shown by the inadequate development of particular learning, expression and memory related disabilities. Some of the specific learning disabilities include dyslexia, which is the reading disability, dyscalculia, which is the disability in mathematics and dysgraphia, which refers to the disability in writing (Johnson, 2004). Therefore, the child will struggle to read, write and perform mathematics.

Riddell & Watson, 2003 in their research findings report that the cognitive disabilities and other learning disabilities are mainly connected to the impairment of the brain to handle and process specific impulses related to learning. Therefore, individuals with learning disabilities find it difficult to learn as quickly or at the same rate as those without a problem.

They thus find trouble performing certain types of skills or complete tasks individually or if taught conventionally. Because of this, they may develop poor social skills that prevent them from interacting frequently with their peers (Riddell & Watson, 2003).

The disproportionate treatment of minorities based on race and ethnicity, as well as students who have a low economic status has largely been touted as a contributor to the slow learning and in adverse cases lead to considerable impairment in learning. This situation calls for community to be more inclusive in its efforts towards supporting children with disabilities to withstand the effect of a disability (Lindsey, 2002). Though many members of the society may look at this as a duty of the immediate family or government, it is vital to note that the disabled children have a valid contribution to the development of the nation and the economy and the nation.

Appropriate diagnosis and addressing of the cognitive impairments and disabilities help to improve the outcomes among these people and reduce the impact of disability among individuals and the wider community (Lindsey, 2002). According to Riddell & Watson, (2003) appropriate intervention enables a checked progress so as to prevent a complete slump into disability while also addressing the effects that the primary cause of disability has on the child. Immediate corrective measures are necessary when people diagnose the disability. This ensures that the child is able to have his disability under control as soon as possible to allow him to engage the cognitive, arithmetic and analytical functions early on in the stage of control. (Johnson, 2004, Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). Johnson (2004) emphasis the stakeholders in the support system towards handling cases of disability to setup early detective systems that will ensure that cases are correctly diagnosed and handled with the intended urgency.

1.2 Disability

Disability is a generic term that stands for impairments, participation restrictions and activity limitations. Impairments can be a problem in body structure or function. An activity limitation, on the other hand, is the difficulty that an individual experiences in completing or when engaging in a task (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). A participation restriction relates to problems facing individuals in their involvement in different life situations. From this, it can be seen that disability is not a health problem only, but involves other aspects such as the interaction of the human body with features of the society in which one lives in (Lindsey, 2002). The effectiveness of engaging in healthy relationships and effective participation with other members of society directly indicates that anything contrary to this indicates a disability. Disability in hence is the consequence of physical, mental, cognitive, developmental, and emotional or a combination of these impairments (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). It may appear when one is born or during the course of life. Different people have various opinions towards disability.

1.3 Disability Among the Families

Some people in my country are well informed and support the disabled. Another group finds it shameful to associate and help the injured people. This perception may arise out of little knowledge or a clear understanding of what disability is and often leads to impaired people being left locked up at home so that they may not come into active contact with other members of society (Lindsey, 2002).

On the other hand, some parents know about the disability and how they can provide care and attend to them. They acknowledge that the disability is lack of knowledge, a deficit in the capacity of physical, mental and sensory per capita that limits its ability of the disabled to play a part in the activities of community. Gargiulo & Kilgo, (2013) reiterates that with this mindset parents are likely to exclude the disabled children from the normal redress of life issues thereby hampering the socialization and participation of the disabled child in vital growth issues.

1.4 Early Intervention

This is a synchronization of various services aimed at promoting a child’s age-appropriate growth, as well as the development. Children require help in order to achieve their potential. However, there are some children who require extra effort during growth. This system supports families during the critical years. This program helps eligible toddlers and babies learn brand-new and basic skills that naturally develop within the first three years of life. Early intervention provides a number of services that the department of special education in Saudi Arabia has thought wise to adopt. They include:

AUDIOLOGY: this is the identification and provision of services to children who have lost the ability to hear. It also helps in preventing the hearing loss (Lindsey 2002).

FAMILY TRAINING: these are services provided by qualified personnel to a family showing them how to note and understand the individual needs of the disabled child and also in promoting his or her development (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013).

NUTRITION SERVICES: these are services that aim at meeting the nutritional needs of children. It includes identifying the most appropriate feeding skills, food preferences and food habits (Lindsey 2002).

NURSING SERVICES: it is the process of providing health care to a child through assessment of his or her health. It includes prevention of health problems through provision of nursing care. It also aims at restoring, improving functioning and promoting optimal growth and development. These services may happen in numerous ways such as administration of treatments and medications (Gargoyle & Kilgo, 2013).

SPECIAL INSTRUCTION: it includes coming up with activities and learning environment that enhance a child’s development, provides parents with the appropriate skills, information and support to promote the child’s development (Lindsey 2002) The department of special education in Saudi Arabia ministry of education has adopted a large portion of these universally recommended options of early intervention.

1.5 Parents Experience and Early Intervention Process

Timely intervention programs have been found to be of great help in providing both social and psychological benefits to communities, families and to children (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). This is seen in the increased appreciation of the inclusion of the skilled disabled in the normal course of development activities (Lindsey 2002). Parents are enabled to cope with the daily needs of a disabled child within the family and the community in general. Families with disabled children have described family-centered early intervention process as a positive experience. However, these families suggest that they need to be involved more in the process. They also demand more information from the experts. Some studies have found out that those parents of children liable to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) identify negative experience with the children timely intervention services (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013).

1.6 How Early Intervention Addresses Individuals and their Environment?

The environment in the context of disability refers to the typical settings for toddlers and infants without delays or disabilities. Early intervention ensures that families, homes, early education and care programs together with other community settings that enable families to spend more time with their families. These services ensure that individuals with a disability do not go to different locations to get the necessary help, but instead, the services are provided for in an environment where the parents’ and the children stay together most of their time. A great involvement of the disabled in the day-to-day activities together with enhancement of a sense of belonging enhances the acceptance of the capabilities and positive contribution to the learning process. (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013).

1.7 Early Education Addressing Learning Disability

Gargiulo & Kilgo (2013) report that children’s brains develop significantly between birth and the age of six early education helps in diagnosing learning disabilities in children (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). It is important to note that learning disabilities do not constitute academic disabilities only. With early education, observations on the child development are made, and this can help in identifying a child’s learning disability. When learning disabilities are detected earlier, there is a high likelihood and chance that the child will undergo a support system to alleviate the effect of the impairment. Early education harnesses the capabilities of the brain to learn reading, arithmetics and memory oriented subjects such that an individual does not face challenges in these fields of study later on as a grown up. The disabled benefit most from this program because it gives them an advantage over children who did not have this experience.

1.8 Education Programs for Children with Disabilities

Research on children with disabilities means that the uniqueness of each disabled child’s case may call for individualized education programs so as to discuss the pace and the model best suited for the child. This is so because limitations vary from one person to another. It is only when the training programs are individualized that the programs stand a chance to be effective. However, when a particular impairment is common, a common plan to address this impairment can be invented. Parents need to be involved in these programs so that they are satisfied that their children are in good hands (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2013). A good example of a program that involves children, and their families is the stop-bullying program. Research indicates that bullying has a negative effect on self-esteem. This effect is more profound in the case of children learning with a disability. This calls for the active participation and involvement of stakeholders including parents, teachers and other students to alleviate the effects of bullying on the children with disabilities. Disabled children may be forced to attend to duties and physical works that they may not be capable of handling effectively thereby attract punishment or non-inclusion from other students.

1.9 Overview of Saudi Arabia

1.9.1 Geography and Population

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in the southwest corner of Asia, The total Saudi population as of April 2013 approximately (29.99 million), inhabitants from Saudi origins form 72.9% of the population; they divided to 50.1% males and 49.9% females. (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2013).

1.9.2 Education System in Saudi Arabia

The current education systems policies in KSA allows for the inclusion of students with disabilities to the public schools (AlWadaani, 2013). The government of Saudi Arabia is collaborating with the teachers who are believed to be useful in the inclusion policies to determine children with disabilities who can be included in public schools. Educational policy in Saudi Arabia is aligned with the general principles of religion.

Educational principles are derived from the belief that the process of learning and performance of duty should be based on the values of God and religion, which meets the needs of society and achieves the goals of the nation. These needs and goals include the areas of education, plans, curricula, and methods of educational and administrative systems, as well as hardware based on education and other related fields. Saudi Arabian educational policy was developed from Islam, which guides the country’s principles, doctrine, worship, law, and judgment leading to an integrated system of life (Saudi Arabia Education Policy, 2012).

Religion, in Saudi Arabia plays a pivotal role in the education system. The Saudi community believes that balanced development is a result of the religious and secular development of the young population. Religion is also vital in maintaining heritage of culture. (Alsonbol, Alkhatib, Motawali, &Motawali, 1998). In order to achieve this, the educational system is keen on incorporating the Islamic principles and the Quran in the development of the curriculum. This is evident as a significant power that influences the educational system of Saudi Arabia (Alsonbol et al., 1998).

The Muslim’s view of the human nature poses that a human being has two major facets that include the spiritual and the physical. This standpoint indicates that there is need for a comprehensive and all-inclusive educational approach. This leads Islam to believe that there exists neutrality in the human being hence the person runs a great deal on instincts hence education plays a considerable part in shaping the effect of the instinct on the individual. It is vital to consider Islam as an objectively cut out weight to the progress and shaping of the individual development (Alsonbol et al., 1998). The education system in Saudi includes religious sciences in the education curriculum so early in the system through to the high levels of learning so as to considerably affect the development of the students and the young citizens.

The history of education in Saudi Arabia dates back to the days when the Kingdom unity began. As early as 1925, the department of education was setup to handle both administratively and technically matters to do with the education of both the young boys and girls and also the older students engaged in higher education. The department of education was also charged with the supervision of primary education, intermediate education and secondary together with tertiary education. This mandate encompasses the supervision of university education (Alsonbol et al., 1998).

The department education in Saudi Arabia gives the younger children an option of beginning schooling early on in life or waiting for the standard age to enroll into school. This level is called the pre-primary level that is charged with the preparation of the girls and boys to face primary education. The department of education lays a great emphasis on the initial six years of schooling. This stage is important because it offer the child a beginning point in terms of social and cultural development. This is offered in the initial three years of nursery education.

After nursery schooling, the child is taken through the kindergarten stage where the main objective is to lay foundation of religion in the 3 to 6 years time. This step aims at positively influencing the human instinct. The next stage is a 6-year study period where the children are gradually introduced to social, religious and scientific studies. This is usually done when the children are about 12 years of age and the ministry separates the children into separate departments for the boys and the girls. This stage seeks to influence analytical, faith and numerical capabilities in the child (Alsonbol et al., 1998).

The next level of study involves enrolment into the intermediate school. The main objective of this level of education is to influence the behavior of the child and evoke desire to apply research methods and develop knowledge tendencies geared towards mental development, potential discovery and talent development.

The secondary school stage comes immediately before college education. This step is inherent with strategies aimed at addressing the needs of higher education. This lays the foundation for the progress of the student in the highly competitive school education (Alsonbol et al., 1998).

Statistics taken in the year 2013 indicate the following numbers of schools and students at the different levels of education.

Table 2.1 Summary of statistics of schools and students in KSA for academic year 2013 in public school

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Table 2.2 Summary of statistics of schools and students in KSA for academic year 2013 in private school

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(Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sa/Arabic/Ministry/Pages/Statistical-reports.aspx)

The tables below indicate the statistics concerning the institutes, programs and the number of students enrolled by the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Special Education field.

Distribution of institutes, mainstreaming programs, and students in special education, Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the school year 2003/2004

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Source: Al-Hamli, (2008).

Distribution of institutes, mainstreaming programs, and students in special education, Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the school year 2006/2007

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Source: Almousa, (2010).

According to the listed tables above, we can deduce that the programs have realized increased enrollment and building of centers in to attend to the special needs of disabled children. The number of institutions handling intellectually disabled children has doubled while the number of the number of the students has considerably increased. This is reflective of the effort by the ministry of Education to address the concern of the disabled students.

1.10 Disability in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

According to the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (2004) article, the definition of disability depends on social and cultural standards of the country (Facts about Disability). For instance, there are some conditions that could be referred to as disability in one country but in another country such conditions are not classified as a disability (Facts about Disability, 2004). Additionally, there are cultures and religions that do not have a term that can exclusively refer to disability (Husain, Sheikh, &Shanawani, 2008). Instead, they have a broad generic term that refers to both disability and illness. The definition of disability can also become complicated when differences arise among medical professionals including anthropologists and sociologists. For example, scholars have found out that there is ambiguity in Islam regarding the definition of disability. This is because of the semantic range that can be developed in a numerous ways. The differential development in semantics of different regions of Muslims has resulted to the discrepancy in the unified view of disability. Some regions consider disability to include more cases than others hence ambiguity. The view attached to this condition from a different professional seeks to attend to be diverse requirements. From the medical point of view, the professional medics look at disabilities as ailments hence a medical related remedy is assigned. A sociologist point of view looks at disability as a communal deficiency that takes the effort of all. (Husain, et al., 2008). As argued by Riddell, traditional Arabic languages had different words to refer to a number of types of disabilities (Husain, et al., 2008).

Firstly, an individual with a disability is defined in KSA as a person whose capacity to perform a task or to maintain work intensity is impaired due to a mental or physical problem. (Japan International Cooperation Agency, 2002).

Secondly in Saudi Arabia disability is defined as any condition that limits the student from actively participating in the normal sphere of the learning activities. This thereby reduces the rate at which the disabled student manages to cope with the learning environment and the rest of the student fraternity (Ministry of Education, 2002).

On the other hand, individual perceptive disability takes up a social model, which largely depends on the disabled person and cannot be determined by the conventional objective model that is based on medical findings. The symptoms of such conditions can also not be verified using any standard medical procedures. While the actual data will show that there is nothing wrong in a person, it is the perception and the testimony of the person that will constitute the evidence needed. Challenges that affect a disabled individual may lead the individual to restrain himself from the normal and progressive state of affairs thereby lead to limited capability to cope with the schooling life.

Thirdly, persons with disabilities have been described in Saudi Arabia as those persons who need ongoing support for a number of life activities. This support is vital for them to be able to integrate with society quickly. This support enables them participate in a number of tasks in the community as active contributors to society development projects and activities and be able to enjoy life as other persons with no disabilities (Almalki, 2013). Lastly, psychology scholars define disability as a person who has physical mental or physical impairment that prevents him from doing certain major activities or a person having a record of such impairment. This is ascertained through nationwide acclaimed medical models that take the individual through a process of diagnosis, and if the person is classified as one with an impairment or disability, he is taken through a rehabilitative process.



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Title: Parents’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Early Intervention Services for Children with Intellectual Disability in Saudi Arabia