Attitude and knowledge of high school pupils towards adolescents with special needs (tourette’s syndrome)
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To determine high school pupils’ attitudes towards adolescents with special needs (for example: TS); to learn what they know about the symptomatology and the exceptional behavior of TS; and what they think about their social future.
Ninety-nine pupils participated in the study. Their mean age was 16.7±0.8 years. Forty-eight point five percent were boys, and the rest girls. They completed a questionnaire concerning knowledge and attitudes towards adolescents with special needs (diagnosed as TS). They had participated in lessons and class talks about handicapped children with psycho behavioral symptoms.
The scores for their knowledge were at a level of 68.9%. Half of the pupils knew and responded correctly that TS was of genetic origin; but the most important: they expressed a comprehensive and tolerant attitude towards impaired behavior in TS at a level of 55.3%. The tolerant attitude increased with advancing age and with school grades. The attitudes were more comprehensive in families suffering form their own emotional or other psychiatric difficulties Forty-three point four percent of pupils understand and consider TS to be an emotional, behavioral and psychiatric entity. Sixty-two point six percent of pupils understand as well and believe that the disruptive behavior and outbursts in TS are involuntary and not under the adolescent’s control. On the other hand, a quarter of the pupils see justification for repeated punishment of TS adolescents for their impaired behavior. Fifty-six point six percent of regular pupils were ready to develop frienship with TS classmates in spite of their unexpect and unruly behaviour. Eight-three point eight percent of pupils believe it is better to inform teachers and classmates about the impaired behavior of, these TS adolescents. Concerning the future of these disabled adolescents, pupils scored a level of 44% for their optimistic beliefs about success in future life; 52% believe that in spite of all difficulties TS adolescents would be able to live an ordinary life, to raise a family and to work.
It is crucial to improve pupils’ attitudes in schools (as well as their teachers’) towards adolescents with special needs (including TS). The authors recommend that TS be considered as a neuro-behavioral and psychiatric disorder; it should be considred as a disability, which calls for comprehension, (not punishment). It would also be of value to speak in classes about the handicaps and neurobehaviorallimitations for example of these TS adolescents, as well as about other pupils in school with special needs, in order to behave socially correctly towards them. The final aim will be that pupils in school will learn to accept the different child and adolescent as they are.
Key WordsPupils’ attitude adolescents Special needs Social future
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