Browsing by Subject "erityispedagogiikka"

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  • Törmänen, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The present thesis discusses relevant issues in education: 1) learning disabilities including the role of comorbidity in LDs, and 2) the use of research-based interventions. This thesis consists of a series of four studies (three articles), which deepens the knowledge of the field of special education. Intervention studies (N=242) aimed to examine whether training using a nonverbal auditory-visual matching computer program had a remedial effect in different learning disabilities, such as developmental dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Specific Language Impairment (SLI). These studies were conducted in both Finland and Sweden. The intervention’s non-verbal character made an international perspective possible. The results of the intervention studies confirmed, that the auditory-visual matching computer program, called Audilex had positive intervention effects. In Study I of children with developmental dyslexia there were also improvements in reading skills, specifically in reading nonsense words and reading speed. These improvements in tasks, which are thought to rely on phonological processing, suggest that such reading difficulties in dyslexia may stem in part from more basic perceptual difficulties, including those required to manage the visual and auditory components of the decoding task. In Study II the intervention had a positive effect on children with dyslexia; older students with dyslexia and surprisingly, students with ADD also benefited from this intervention. In conclusion, the role of comorbidity was apparent. An intervention effect was evident also in students’ school behavior. Study III showed that children with SLI experience difficulties very similar to those of children with dyslexia in auditory-visual matching. Children with language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and SLI benefited from the auditory-visual matching intervention. Also comorbidity was evident among these children; in addition to formal diagnoses, comorbidity was explored with an assessment inventory, which was developed for this thesis. Interestingly, an overview of the data of this thesis shows positive intervention effects in all studies despite learning disability, language, gender or age. These findings have been described by a concept inter-modal transpose. Self-evidently these issues need further studies. In learning disabilities the aim in the future will also be to identify individuals at risk rather than by deficit; this aim can be achieved by using research-based interventions, intensified support in general education and inclusive special education. Keywords: learning disabilities, developmental dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, specific language impairment, language-based learning disabilities, comorbidity, auditory-visual matching, research-based interventions, inter-modal transpose
  • Mononen, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the effectiveness of early mathematics interventions for young children with low performance in mathematics. Previous research has indicated that early mathematics skills are a strong predictor of later mathematics performance. The goal of early mathematics support by means of interventions is to improve mathematics performance, and consequently, to diminish the possibility of mathematics learning disability emerging later on. This thesis sought to complement and extend previous research in the field of early mathematics interventions, by reviewing early mathematics interventions, and investigating the effectiveness of two early mathematics intervention programmes. Study I reviewed mathematics interventions (N = 19) aimed at 4–7-year-old children with low performance in mathematics. For each intervention, effect sizes were calculated for mathematics outcome measures, and the pedagogical implementation was described. The effectiveness of the RightStart Mathematics (RS) (Cotter, 2001) instruction was investigated in Studies II and III. In Study II, the instruction was provided for Finnish kindergartners (RS group: n = 38, comparison group: n = 32) in general education classrooms, with focus on low-performing children. In Study III, the RS instruction was provided in special education classrooms for children with a specific language impairment (SLI group: n = 9, comparison group: n = 32). In Study IV, a mathematics intervention programme Improving Mathematics Skills in the Second Grade (IMS-2) (Mononen & Aunio, 2012) was developed, and its effectiveness for second graders performing low in mathematics was examined (IMS-2 group: n = 11, low-performing controls: n = 13 and typically performing controls: n = 64). In Studies II-IV, quantitative methods were used for analysing the interventions’ effects. According to the results of the review, in the majority of the interventions, the mathematics skills of the participating children improved more than the skills of the children in control groups, with effect sizes varying from small to large. Progress in mathematics learning was evident when instruction included one or more of the following instructional features: explicit instruction, peer-assisted instruction, applying a concrete-representational-abstract sequence, computer assisted instruction, or games. Study II showed that the RS instruction was as effective as the typical Finnish kindergarten mathematics instruction. The counting skills of the initially low-performing children improved to the level of their typically performing peers. Follow-up in the first grade revealed performance differences between the initially low- and typically performing children, highlighting the importance of continuously monitoring progress, and providing intensified support. In Study III, children with a SLI receiving RS instruction improved their counting skills to the level of their peers. In the first grade follow-up, the children with SLI performed similarly to their peers in addition and subtraction skills (accuracy) and multi-digit number comparison. In Study IV, the mathematics skills of the second graders participating in the IMS-2 intervention did not improve more than the skills of the children in control groups. However, the study provided valuable information about the functionality of the IMS-2 programme’s intensity and content. To conclude, in general, the results indicate that rather than waiting for children to fail, mathematics interventions can be used successfully to promote the early mathematics skills of children with low performance in mathematics, already before the onset of formal schooling and in the early grades. Therefore, identifying low performance in mathematics and providing sufficient support should be emphasised already in early childhood education, in accordance with the Finnish three-tiered educational support system. Keywords: early mathematics skills, low performance in mathematics, mathematics learning disability, mathematics intervention, review, specific language impairment, educational support
  • Suhonen, Eira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    How toddlers with special needs adjust to the daycare setting A multiple case study of how the relationships with adults and children are built The aim in this study is to describe how toddlers with special needs adjust to daycare. The emotional well-being and involvement in daycare activities of toddlers are especially investigated in this study. The relationship and how it is built between an adult and a child, a child and a child is examined. The daycare is examined through the socio-cultural theory as a pedagogical institution, where the child adapts by participating in social and cultural activities with the others. The development of the child is the result of the experiences that are gained through the constant relationship between the child, the family and social context. By the attachment theory the inner self-regulation, that allows the child safely adapt to new situations, develops most in the relationship between the child under 3years of age and the attending adult. The relationships between toddlers in daycare are usually built by the coincidental encounters in play and daily activities. In these relationships, the toddler gets the information of themselves and the other children. The complexity of the rules in the setting that organize the social action is challenging for the children and they need constant support from the adults. The participants of the study were five toddlers with special needs. When applying to daycare they were less than three years old and they got the specialist statement for their special needs, and the reference for daycare. The children were observed by recording their attending in the daycare once in the 3-4 months from the first day in daycare. Approximately 15 hours of material that was analysed with the Transana-program. The qualitative material was analysed by first collecting a descriptive model that explains and theorises the phenomenon. By the summery of the narrative it is placed a hypothesis that is tested by quantitative methods using correlations and variance analyses and general linear modeling that is used to count the differences between repeated measures and connections between different variables. The results of the study are built theoretically for the consistent conception between the theory and the findings in research. The toddlers in the study were all dependent on the support given by the adults in all the situations in the daycare. They could not associate with the other children without the support of the adults and their involvement in activities was low. The engagement of an adult in interaction was necessary for the children’s involvement in activities, and the co-operation with the other children. The engagement of teachers was statistically significantly higher than the engagement of other professions.
  • Alijoki, Alisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The purpose of this follow-up study is to analyse stages of learning and teaching of children with special needs in pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. The target group included 270 children with special needs. The three year follow-up period for each child began during the pre-school year, and continued until the spring of the second grade in elementary school. Various diagnoses were detected among children in the study group. The disorders were categorised in six classes: the developmentally delayed, children with language development disorder, children with emotional and behavioural disorders, children with attention deficit, children with other non-cognitive disorders and children with extensive developmental disorders. The study's starting point was the situation in pre-school: how the children were placed in pre-school, and what kinds of support they were offered? The purpose of the study was to describe how children with special needs move from different types of groups in pre-school to the different types of classes in the first two grades of elementary school. I also examined how well the children with special needs succeeded in the first two grades of elementary school. An additional purpose was to find out what connections there may be between the paths taken by children with special needs when they move from pre-school to elementary school, the types of support they get, and how they succeed academically in elementary school. The data were gathered mainly by means of questionnaires. In addition the children were studied by means of tests designed to estimate their academic skills at the end of the second grade. In analysing the data I used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Six paths were identified among the children in the study group, based on whether a child was in a group or a class given special teaching or in an ordinary group or class during pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. In this study, about 53% of the children with special needs moved from pre-school to a regular class in elementary school, and about 47% of the children received special education in elementary school. Among the ordinary groups (n = 69) in pre-school the majority of children (73 %) moved to a regular class in elementary school. Among the children receiving special education (n = 201) in pre-school, 46% moved to a regular class in elementary school. That path turned out to be the one followed by the greatest number of children. Only rarely did children move from an ordinary group in pre-school to a special education class in elementary school. Examination of the results according to the children's transition paths also links together with the viewpoint of integration and segregation. This study indicates that in pre-school special education groups, a significantly greater number of methods supporting children's development were used than in the conventional education groups. The difference was at its greatest inconnection with the use of so-called special rehabilitation methods. A quite wide range of variation was observed in how the children succeeded in elementary school. Success in the tests designed to estimate the children's academic skills was poor for 31% of the children (n = 230) in the first grade study group. For 69 % of the children, however, success in the tests was at least satisfactory. In the second grade study group 34 % of the children (N = 216) got through all the three tests estimating academic skills acceptably. According to this study, a number of children with special needs require special support throughout pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. The results show that if the children received special support during the pre-school year, a number were able to participate in regular education in elementary school. Keywords: a child with special needs, measures of support, transitions, achievements in school
  • Vainikainen, Mari-Pauliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    During the last decade, Finnish pupils performance in educational assessment studies has steadily declined. At the same time the differences between pupils and in the capital area also the differences between schools have increased, and girls usually outperform boys in most assessed domains. The aim of the present study was to examine how these differences develop during primary education, with a special emphasis on the development of the performance of pupils in need of support for their studies. This was done by following three different samples of primary school pupils in two municipalities: In Helsinki a sample of 608 pupils was followed from the beginning of the first grade to the end of the sixth grade, and in Vantaa two full cohorts (N≈2000 in each) were assessed in the first/third grade and again in the third/sixth grade. In the beginning of the first grade the pupils took a learning preparedness test, and teachers evaluated their initial reading skills. At the turn of the third and fourth grade the pupils completed the Finnish learning to learn scales, which addressed a wide scope of cognitive competences and learning-related attitudes. Learning to learn assessments were repeated at the end of the sixth grade before the transfer to lower secondary education. Additional information was collected about pupils social relationships, task interest and effort as measured by time investment, based on the log files of computer-based assessment. Multiple-group structural equation modelling, repeated measures general linear modelling and variance components modelling were applied in four substudies for testing the hypotheses about the influences of prior cognitive competences, attitudes, interest and effort on performance and about the different trajectories of their development within municipalities, schools, classes and peer groups. The results showed that whereas girls were evaluated by their teachers as being slightly better readers already when they came to school, there was no gender difference in pupils performance in the learning preparedness test. Girls, however, gained slightly more in reading comprehension during the first three years of basic education. Boys in Helsinki outperformed girls in mathematical thinking in the beginning of third grade, but girls closed the gap by the end of the sixth grade. Mothers lower education and pupils support needs were related to lower initial competences, but the differences did not increase during the first three years of basic education. In contrast, in regard to reasoning skills pupils with support needs even closed the gap to some extent. The gap between pupils with support needs and others, however, increased from the beginning of the fourth grade to the end of the sixth grade in both municipalities. Between-school differences slightly increased during the six years of follow-up in Helsinki, but in Vantaa the variation remained between classes in schools. From the end of the third grade to the end of the sixth grade girls improved their performance slightly more than boys in both municipalities. The log data analyses of the computer-based assessment in Vantaa revealed that girls advantage could be completely explained by their more positive attitudes and greater effort as measured by their time investment in the tasks. Reduced time investment and higher levels of detrimental attitudes also provided a partial explanation as to why pupils with identified support needs did not reach their expected level of performance in the sixth grade assessment. As expected, learning-related attitudes declined with age, but this change was unrelated with the changes in performance. Changes in task interest, however, were a meaningful predictor of later performance. Changes in attitudes and interest happened to some extent in classes and peer groups, and boys who were also identified as having support needs more often than girls seemed to be more vulnerable to the influences of their boy classmates both regarding their attitudes and task behaviour in the assessment situation.
  • Thuneberg, Helena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This cross-sectional study analyzed psychological well-being at school using the Self-Determination theory as a theoretical frame-work. The study explored basic psychological needs fulfillment (BPNS), academic (SRQ-A), prosocial self-regulation (SRQ-P) and motivation, and their relationship with achievement in general, special and selective education (N=786, 444 boys, 345 girls, mean age 12 yrs 8 mths). Motivation starts behavior which becomes guided by self-regulation. The perceived locus of control (PLOC) affects how self-determined this behavior will be; in other words, to what extent it is autonomously regulated. In order learn and thus to be able to accept external goals, a student has to feel emotionally safe and have sufficient ego-flexibility—all of which builds on satisfied psychological needs. In this study those conditions were explored. In addition to traditional methods Self-organizing maps (SOM), was used in order to cluster the students according to their well-being, self-regulation, motivation and achievement scores. The main impacts of this research were: a presentation of the theory based alternative of studying psychological well-being at school and usage of both the variable and person-oriented approach. In this Finnish sample the results showed that the majority of students felt well, but the well-being varied by group. Overall about for 11–15% the basic needs were deprived depending on the educational group. Age and educational group were the most effective factors; gender was important in relation to prosocial identified behavior. Although the person-oriented SOM-approach, was in a large extent confirming what was no-ticed by using comparison of the variables: the SEN groups had lower levels of basic needs fulfillment and less autonomous self-regulation, interesting deviations of that rule appeared. Some of the SEL- and GEN-group members ended up in the more unfavorable SOM-clusters, and not all SEN-group members belonged to the poorest clusters (although not to the best either). This evidence refines the well-being and self-regulation picture, and may re-direct intervention plans, and turn our focus also on students who might otherwise remain unnoticed. On the other hand, these results imply simultaneously that in special education groups the average is not the whole truth. On the basis of theoretical and empirical considerations an intervention model was sug-gested. The aim of the model was to shift amotivation or external motivation in a more intrinsic direction. According to the theoretical and empirical evidence this can be achieved first by studying the self-concept a student has, and then trying to affect both inner and environmental factors—including a consideration of the basic psychological needs. Keywords: academic self-regulation, prosocial self-regulation, basic psychological needs, moti-vation, achievement
  • Sinkkonen, Hanna-Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Lost boys. A multiple case study of the complex school career and life-course of male students who have attended special classes for the emotionally and behaviourally maladjusted The purpose of this thesis is to describe the school career and the life-course of eight former special-class students from the comprehensive school to their further education and into adulthood. The members of the target group have been students of special classes for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties in southern Finland. The interviews were made 1994-1997 at school and for follow-up interviews 2002-2003, when the participants were already adults. Six mothers were also interviewed. The qualitative data was gathered using individual interviews and Adult Attachment Interview. The aim was to explore the life-histories of subjects from early childhood to early adulthood. Information was gathered also from the documents concerning the students´ school attendance. Every single life-history is illustrated as a life-course graphic. The data has been analysed using different frames of reference and combining different theories. In addition to theories considering developmental risk factors and protective factors, the data is considered using theories of control over life, attribution, self-efficacy and identity and attitudes towards education. The experiential living mode of the students has been studied, as well. The results of this study show that the frames of references which are used complement each other. The target students clustered identically in spite of the frames of reference. As a result, the study has illustrated the same phenomenon from different points of view. The results of the study consist of three types of school careers: The winding career, the vicious circle career and the straight career. The three careers differ from each other in developmental risk and protective factors and post-school life-courses of the students. The type of childhood families and especially the fathers´ attention to the school education as well as the free time of their sons was important. Keywords: Pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, maladjustment to school, life-course, identity
  • Uusitalo-Malmivaara, Lotta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Remediation of Reading Difficulties in Grade 1. Three Pedagogical Interventions Keywords: initial teaching, learning to read, reading difficulties, intervention, dyslexia, remediation of dyslexia, home reading, computerized training In this study three different reading interventions were tested for first-graders at risk of reading difficulties at school commencement. The intervention groups were compared together and with a control group receiving special education provided by the school. First intervention was a new approach called syllable rhythmics in which syllabic rhythm, phonological knowledge and letter-phoneme correspondence are emphasized. Syllable rhythmics is based on multi-sensory training elements aimed at finding the most functional modality for every child. The second intervention was computerized training of letter-sound correspondence with the Ekapeli learning game. The third intervention was home-based shared book reading, where every family was given a story book, and dialogic reading style reading and writing exercises were prepared for each chapter of the book. The participants were 80 first-graders in 19 classes in nine schools. The children were matched in four groups according to pre-test results: three intervention and one control. The interventions took ten weeks starting from September in grade 1. The first post-test including several measures of reading abilities was administered in December. The first delayed post-test was administered in March, the second in September in grade 2, and the third, “ALLU” test (reading test for primary school) was administered in March in grade 2. The intervention and control groups differed only slightly from each other in grade 1. However, girls progressed significantly more than boys in both word reading and reading comprehension in December and this difference remained in March. The children who had been cited as inattentive by their teachers also lagged behind the others in the post-tests in December and March. When participants were divided into two groups according to their initial letter knowledge at school entry, the weaker group (maximum 17 correctly named letters in pre-test) progressed more slowly in both word reading and reading comprehension in grade 1. Intervention group and gender had no interaction effect in grade 1. Instead, intervention group and attentiveness had an interaction effect on most test measures the inattentive students in the syllable rhythmic group doing worst and attentive students in the control group doing best in grade 1. The smallest difference between results of attentive and inattentive students was in the Ekapeli group. In grade 2 still only minor differences were found between the intervention groups and control group. The only significant difference was in non-word reading, with the syllable rhythmics group outperforming the other groups in the fall. The difference between girls’ and boys’ performances in both technical reading and text comprehension disappeared in grade 2. The difference between the inattentive and attentive students cold no longer be found in technical reading, and the difference became smaller in text comprehension as well. The difference between two groups divided according to their initial letter knowledge disappeared in technical reading but remained significant in text comprehension measures in the ALLU test in the spring of grade 2. In all, the children in the study did better in the ALLU test than expected according to ALLU test norms. Being the weakest readers in their classes in the pre-test, 52.3 % reached the normal reading ability level. In the norm group 72.3 % of all students attained normal reading ability. The results of this study indicate that different types of remediation programs can be effective, and that special education has been apparently useful. The results suggest careful consideration of first-graders’ initial reading abilities (especially letter knowledge) and possible failure of attention; remediation should be individually targeted while flexibly using different methods.
  • Panula, Anne-Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The purpose of this follow-up study was to explore the occurrence and persistence of reading difficulties and their relation to school achievement as well as the reception of part time special education. The progress of literacy and the changes in school achievement among the students who had received part time special education were also examined in this study. The target group was one age cohort in a small community in southern Finland. A total of 461 students participated the study (boys 49.9% and girls 50.1%). The analysis of the results was mainly done using the data from 3rd to 9th grades of the entire cohort (N=287; boys 53% and girls 47%). The external loss of data was 18.5%. The research questions were also analysed with follow-up data collected after different lengths of time. The longest period started from preschool and continued to the end of the 9th grade (N=137; the external loss of participants over the nine years was 25.5%). Cross data was created for every measuring point (preschool, 3rd, 6th and 9th grades). Eight different reading paths were created for primary school. The preschool screening of reading abilities was done using the individual phonological test Diagnostic Tests I (Diagnostiset testit I; Poskiparta, Niemi and Lepola 1994). In primary school reading abilities were charted using the Primary School Reading Test (Ala-asteen Lukutesti; Lindeman 1998). Screening reading abilities in the secondary school was done with the Niilo Mäki Institute s Screening Test for Adolescents and Adults (Lukivaikeuksien seulontamenetelmä nuorille ja aikuisille; Holopainen, Kairaluoma, Nevala, Ahonen and Aro 2004). School reports for the 6th and 9th grades were used as indicators of school achievement. Comprehensive, dynamic and developmental aspects of reading skills formed the conceptual framework of the study. The classic Simple view of reading model (SVR-malli; Gough and Tunmer 1986; Hoover and Gough 1990) was used as a starting point for the study. The SVR model was developed into a comprehensive literacy model when it was formed using the Convergent Skills Model of Reading Development (Vellutino, Tunmer, Jaccard and Chen 2007) and Component Model of Reading (Aaron, Joshi, Gooden and Bentum 2008) models. The Finnish point of view, the orthographic characteristics of the Finnish language (high transparency of the language, or the regularity of mapping between orthography and phonology) as well as the relations between reading development, reading difficulties, Finnish culture and the education system were emphasized in the resulting reading model. The results suggest that tests in preschool can predict reading comprehension difficulties in primary school fairly well. The most used reading path among the students in primary school was the strong reading path, and the second was the so called weak reading path. Reading difficulties turned out to be quite stable through out primary education. When analysing gender differences, it was discovered that boys have more reading difficulties and that these difficulties are more stable. The average grades in theoretical subjects were statistically highly significantly weaker for students with reading difficulties compared to other students in all examinations. The reading comprehension test in 3rd grade predicted quite well (72% accuracy) whether a student would be in the group with the lowest grades at the end of the 9th grade (an average of theoretical subjects of 7.00 or less). For the boys, weak reading skills were especially related to poor school achievement. The study also brought out the joint effect of word recognition and reading comprehension with 6th and 9th grade school achievement. A positive relation between the amount of part time special education received during primary school and the changes in school achievement between 6th and 9th grade was shown in the study. In addition to individual variations, the school and individual classrooms affected the general variation in reading ability and school achievement. In the study this was demonstrated using multilevel modeling. The class level proved to be a significant factor for 3rd and 6th grade word recognition skills. Keywords: Literacy, follow-up study, reading difficulties, dyslexia, reading comprehension, school achievement, part time special education
  • Raudasoja, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The purpose of this research was to evaluate the special vocational training programme, which aimed at enhancing the pupils with autism spectrum to prepare themselves for work and independent life. The vocational training programme is based on TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication handicapped CHildren), which takes into account the autism spectrum disorders and autistic behaviour. TEACCH is based on the principles of structured teaching, functional teaching and preparation training for work and independent life. The TEACCH has been adapted to Finnish society and the educational system. Treatment programmes were individually designed for each student´s educational needs. There is also an important role for the AAPEP rating scale (Adolescent and Adult Psychoeducational Profile). The AAPEP has been the major tool for planning and following the courses. The AAPEP is an assessment instrument designed by the TEACCH programme, and it is used to provide an evaluation of current and potential skills. The AAPEP contains three scales: a direct observation scale, a home scale and a school / work scale. The AAPEP includes six test variables: vocational skills, independent functions, functional communication, interpersonal behaviour, vocational behaviour and leisure skills; these are evaluated at three levels: pass, emerge and fail. The subjects were 49 students (65% male and 35 % female) with autism spectrum, who have been followed and tested several times, also one year after the vocational training. The design is therefore a longitudinal one. The research data were collected 1997-2004 using the AAPEP rating scales. The teachers have used the AAPEP scales and the codings have been checked by the researcher. The results of the principal component analysis (PCA) suggested that the structure of AAPEP rating scales works quite well as a hypothesis. The factor structure of the scales of the AAPEP was almost the same in these data as in the original publications. The learning-and-changes results showed that learning is a slow process, but that there were also intended changes in several AAPEP areas. The Cohen´s kappa was used as an effect-size measure and the most important result of this research showed that the student´s skills were developing on a school / work scale; vocational skills variable (0,34), vocational behaviour variable (0,28), leisure skills variable (0,26) and on a direct observation scale; interpersonal behaviour variable (0,21). On a home scale skills of some students were developing negatively and also that effect-size was small. The results showed that the students´ vocational skills and vocational behaviour will continue to develop after school in many areas. There were differences between scales. The result of this research shows that the student´s skills were developing significantly in 3 of 48 variables on a direct observation scale and also on a home scale. On a school / work scale student´s skills were developing significantly in 17 of 48 variables. This result implies that students can do the work without extra assistance if there exist continuing supports for the skills after the vocational training. The fully independent life of students will be difficult, because their independent functions, functional communications and leisure skills regressed after the schooling. This seems to indicate that they will not manage their daily life without support. The students and their parents said that the treatment programmes were individually designed for each student s educational needs, and that they were satisfied with the programmes and services. Generally, it can be concluded that vocational special education can be developed for pupils with autistic syndrome and the detailed teaching can be done using TEACCH principles and applying the tool of AAPEP.
  • Hirn, Helinä (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    It is demanding for children with visual impairment to become aware of the world beyond their immediate experience. They need to learn to control spatial experiences as a whole and understand the relationships between objects, surfaces and themselves. Tactile maps can be an excellent source of information for depicting space and environment. By means of tactile maps children can develop their spatial understanding more efficiently than through direct travel experiences supplemented with verbal explanations. Tactile maps can help children when they are learning to understand environmental, spatial, and directional concepts. The ability to read tactile maps is not self-evident; it is a skill, which must be learned. The main research question was: can children who are visually impaired learn to read tactile maps at the preschool age if they receive structural teaching? The purpose of this study was to develop an educational program for preschool children with visual impairment, the aim of which was to teach them to read tactile maps in order to strengthen their orientation skills and to encourage them to explore the world beyond their immediate experience. The study is a multiple case study describing the development of the map program consisting of eight learning tasks. The program was developed with one preschooler who was blind, and subsequently the program was implemented with three other children. Two of the children were blind from birth, one child had lost her vision at the age of two, and one child had low vision. The program was implemented in a normal preschool. Another objective of the pre-map program was to teach the preschooler with visual impairment to understand the concept of a map. The teaching tools were simple, map-like representations called pre-maps. Before a child with visual impairment can read a comprehensive tactile map, it is important to learn to understand map symbols, and how a three-dimensional model changes to a two-dimensional tactile map. All teaching sessions were videotaped; the results are based on the analysis of the videotapes. Two of the children completed the program successfully, and learned to read a tactile map. The two other children felt happy during the sessions, but it was problematic for them to engage fully in the instruction. One of the two eventually completed the program, while the other developed predominantly emerging skills. The results of the children's performances and the positive feedback from the teachers, assistants and the parents proved that this pre-map program is appropriate teaching material for preschool children who are visually impaired. The program does not demand high-level expertise; also parents, preschool teachers, and school assistants can carry out the program.
  • Kjäldman, Ismo-Olav (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The goal of this research was to survey the self-concept and school achievement of pupils with cleft lip, cleft palate or both from juvenile age to adolescence. Longitudinal researches of self-concept and school achievement among pupils with cleft lip, cleft palate or both are uncommon. This research was the first longitudinal research ever conducted in Finland among this population. This research can be considered to be a special educational study because of the target group involved. Self-concept consists of the person s entire personality. Personality is biological and deterministic. Self-concept includes concepts, attitudes and feelings that the person has about him or her qualities, abilities and relations to the environment. The individual associates experiences to this personality with earlier observations through the social interaction. The individual will have the consciousness of the person s existence and action. The target group in this study consisted of Finnish children with clefts, who were comprised of four different age groups. The questionnaire was sent to all subjects (N1 = 419) both times. A total of 74 % of children returned the questionnaire in 1988 (N2=305). 48 % of children returned the questionnaire in 1993 (N3=203). 42% of children returned the questionnaire both times (N4=175) . These 175 children formed the research subjects. The survey was conducted in 1988, and again in 1993. In 1988, the pupils surveyed were 9 to 12 years of age, while in 1993 they were between 14 and 17 years old. The data was collected through the use of a questionnaire, which consisted of common questions and a personality inventory test that was developed for Finnish students by professor Maija-Liisa Rauste-von Wright. Quantitative analysis methods were used to examine the structure of self-concept and school achievement. Structures found in this research were observed in relation to disorder, gender and maturation. According to these results, structures of self-concepts and school achievement are in fact stable. Basic self-concept elements are seen to be formed at an early age. The developmental aspects of self-concept following puberty are observed as the stability of self-concept and as the forming of a general self. The level of school achievement is stable, but the structure of school achievement changes. From these results, it is possible to state that the gender of the child has a statistical significance regarding self-concept and school achievement. However, the experienced disorder does not have statistical significance as regards to self-concept and school achievement. Results of self-concept support the research of self-concept conducted earlier in Finland.
  • Kyttälä, Minna (Helsingfors universitet, 2008)
    The purpose of the research project was to investigate whether visuospatial working memory resources are related to mathematical skills. The theoretical framework was based on the three-component model of Alan Baddeley (1986, 1997) supplied with modality specific central executive functions (e.g. Shah & Miyake, 1996; Jarvis & Gathercole, 2003) and both passive storage and active processing functions according to the conceptualisation of Cornoldi and Vecchi (2003). The association between visuospatial working memory and mathematical performance was investigated by five empirical studies. Two of them aimed at investigating the relationship between early numeracy and visuospatial working memory skills and three of them examined the association between mathematical skills and visuospatial working memory resources in ninth-grade pupils. The first study (I) investigated the relationship between visuospatial working memory and early numeracy in preschool aged children. Study II examined the cognitive (working memory) profile of the preschool aged children with difficulties in mathematics (MD). The third study (III) investigated the relationship between both visuospatial and verbal working memory skills and mathematical performance. Study IV examined the association between passive and active visuospatial working memory resources, fluid intelligence and mathematical skills. The fifth study (V) investigated the visuospatial working memory profile of the ninth-grade pupils with difficulties in mathematics (MD). The results of the empirical studies showed that performance in visuospatial working memory tasks is related to mathematical skills in both preschool aged children and school aged adolescents. Both preschool-aged children and upper-grade adolescents with mathematical difficulties had poor visuospatial working memory resources compared to their age-matched peers with normal performance in mathematics. The visuospatial working memory profile of the MD children and adolescents was related to language skills. The results are discussed by a general (visuospatial) WM deficit of the MD children and adolescents with poor language or reading skills and a specific visuospatial WM deficit of the MD children with normal language or reading skills. Keywords: Working memory, visuospatial working memory, mathematical skills, number sense, mathematical learning difficulties