Factors Affecting Acquisition of Adaptive Behavior Skills among Learners with Intellectual Disabilities in Selected Primary Special Schools and Units in Thika Subcounty, Kiambu County, Kenya
Kinuthia, Solomon D.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors affecting acquisition of adaptive behavior skills among learners with intellectual disabilities in selected primary special schools and units in Thika Sub-County, Kiambu, Kenya. Learners with intellectual disability have a low IQ (below 70) and cannot cope with the regular curriculum. They need a specialized curriculum that includes skills meant to help them cope with day to day activities. However, teaching of these skills is faced by many challenges like inadequate curriculum content, lack of teaching/learning resources, teacher factors like negative attitude and pupil factors like absenteeism. Therefore many of these learners do not acquire adaptive skills in schools. The study was guided by four objectives which were; investigate curriculum used for learners with intellectual disabilities in Thika Sub County, explore teaching resources used for learners with intellectual disabilities, identify teacher factors and strategies put in place to enhance acquisition of adaptive behavior skills, establish learner factors affecting teaching of adaptive behavior skills to learners with intellectual disabilities. The study was carried out in Thika Special School for the intellectually disabled, Kenyatta Primary Special Unit and Kimuchu Primary Special Unit. The target population was 399 pupils, 52 teachers, and 3 head teachers, making a total of 454 subjects. The researcher used purposive and random sampling to select a sample of 36 pupils and 10 teachers for the study. The study adopted descriptive survey design involving both qualitative and quantitative design. The pilot study was carried out in St Maria Magdalene Special School in Thika. Questionnaires, observation checklists and interview schedules were used to collect data. Content validity of the study instruments was ensured through the judgment of the researcher’s supervisors. Karl Pearson’s method of correlation was used check reliability of study instruments. The reliability coefficient of 0.75 for questionnaire and 0.78 for observation checklists was realized. Quantitative data was analyzed using graphs, tables and narrative paragraphs. The qualitative data was analyzed by coding responses to the interviews and observation according to emerging themes, feeding into SPSS Program and reporting the findings according to the objectives. The study revealed that there was inadequate content in the present curriculum for learners with intellectual disabilities since some important specifications were missing leading to less emphasis on teaching important adaptive behavior skills. The learning/teaching resources for important teaching activities like games training were missing. Teacher factors like poor teaching methods and poor teaching strategies were found to affect acquisition of adaptive behavior skills negatively. Pupil factors like severity and age of the learner leading to absenteeism and inability to handle tasks required were also found to be affecting acquisition of adaptive behavior skills. Hence, the study concluded that there was ineffective teaching of adaptive behavior skills in most of the units and special schools leading to poor acquisition of adaptive behavior skills. The study recommended that the EARC coordinator should make sure that adaptive behavior skills are taught and proper teaching methods and strategies used to enhance acquisition of adaptive behavior skills. It also recommended that trained teachers should be posted to head special schools and units for learners with intellectual disabilities. Specialist teachers should be posted to teach learners with intellectual disabilities. The Ministry of education should make sure that learning/teaching materials are adequate in these schools. KICD should revise the present curriculum and put more emphasis on teaching of adaptive behavior skills in special units and special schools for learners with intellectual disabilities.