Longitudinal studies have been done to test the academic efficacy, participation and intrinsic motivation in after-school programs impact on the academic achievements of students (Niehaus & Jill, 2012; Shernoff 2010; Soria 2012). These studies have proved that after school programs positively impact on the academic achievement of students. Niehaus and Jill (2012) have,for example, concluded that intrinsic motivation is positively associated with the GPA of students and self efficacy contributes to students high scores in technical subjects like math and also improves on students attendance and overall academic performance. These results clearly depict that after-school programs have a positive role to play in the community in contributing to student’s academic performance. These programs have qualified educators and facilities to promote and support students learning.
Students with behavioral disorders and autism can also benefit from after-school programs through the provision of behavioral and social enrichment outside the usual classroom setting. Austin is a development behavior that impact on a child’s communication and social behavior. Autism is classified differently by health care workers, because it differently affects one person to another in different ways. Therefore, a person can suffer from severe or mild autism. Though studies on the benefits of afterschool programs among students without special needs and disabilities have been explored widely, studies on the benefit of these programs among students with behavioral disorders and autism have hardly been conducted. It is clear that after –school learning programs can positively impact not just their academic success, but also on their overall social skills that are taught in classrooms.
Parents with children suffering from autism and behavioral disabilities face a major task in finding suitable after school programs with qualified educators and facilities for their children. Though there a few number of after school programs for students with special needs, most of them do not offer the expected experience for these students. This challenge is attributed to the lack individuals familiar with the specific needs of these students. These are mainly the teachers or para-educators teaching students in the after-school, programs. These educators or other staff members may lack the necessary skills in handling students with special needs especially those with autism and behavioral disorders. Another challenge that face parents of these children with special needs when it comes to afterschool-programs is that there is lack of direct communication between the child’s classroom teachers and the after-school program teachers before the students is enrolled in the after school classes.
This leads to misunderstanding in both teachers and also negatively impact on the child. This means that there has to be open channels of communication that will help the teachers in afterschool programs understand the student’s special needs a better way. There is also the challenge of facilities and resources in after school programs to accommodate students with behavioral problems and autism. This is mainly as a result of the program’s care setting that is only for the normal children. This includes the lack of staff members who are unfamiliar with special conditions such as behavioral disorders and autism. The after-school programs are also characterized by structured activities that do not assist these students grows socially. The programs also do have predictable routines and do not foster social exchange.
Finally, there is the challenge is that the after-school programs have not been established as a connection with the school, and this makes students have a hard time especially on the issue of familiarity. In cases whether programs have been set up as an extension of the school, most of them have not put in mind the needs and interest of students with behavioral challenges and autism. This study will explore these issues that impact on students with autism and behavioral behaviors in afterschool programs. The aim, therefore, will be to contribute in this area that has not been explored by earlier studies on after-schools programs and students with special needs.
US: Sage Publications. Vol 34(1), pp. 118-136