JAID Calls for Assessment of More Children

Photo: Michael Sloley Executive Director of the Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities, Christine Rodriguez (centre), addresses JIS ‘Think Tank’, yesterday (March 29). Others (from left) are: Development Manager, Marilyn McKoy (left) and President, Sonia Jackson.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) is calling for the assessment of more children who are classified as slow learners, as this may be an indication of intellectual disability (ID).
  • “We are collecting all of this data and we are not using it to drive the system. Instead, we say the children are lazy or the parents are not working with them enough. .."
  • Mrs. McKoy added that about 88 percent of children with ID are classified as mild and are therefore not served by JAID’s schools of special education, but can be often found in the regular school system.

The Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) is calling for the assessment of more children who are classified as slow learners, as this may be an indication of intellectual disability (ID).

Executive Director of JAID, Christine Rodriguez, said the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has several points in the education system, where children with characteristics of ID can be identified and evaluated.

“In grade one, there is a readiness inventory test that is done within the first term that the child enters school. When you do that, the child may be identified at the mastery, near mastery or non mastery level. That is a point that should alert teachers that something is not right,” she said.

“If after a year of intervention and the child has not moved from the non-mastery or near mastery level, the siren should be going off that this child needs to be assessed,” Mrs. Rodriguez added, noting that there are similar tests in grades three and four.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, yesterday (March 29), she said if a student is consistently underperforming, he or she should not simply be allowed to repeat the curriculum, but should undergo psycho-educational assessment.

In addition to the assessments, the Executive Director recommended that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information takes a systematic approach to the problem by using the data collected on students to seek alternative pathways for those who are underperforming.

“We are collecting all of this data and we are not using it to drive the system. Instead, we say the children are lazy or the parents are not working with them enough. We are coming up with all the different reasons. If we are using the data that we are collecting, no child should be leaving the primary level without being identified as having a problem,” she said.

In the meantime, Development Manager at JAID, Marilyn McKoy, said the Association has been collaborating with teachers in several schools across the country to work with children with ID.

“We have worked with teachers in the regular system and we have given strategies on how to work with children within the mainstream to help them perform within their setting,” she said.

Mrs. McKoy added that about 88 percent of children with ID are classified as mild and are therefore not served by JAID’s schools of special education, but can be often found in the regular school system.

The schools of special education are jointly operated by JAID and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and serve children between the ages of 6 and 21. They are the Randolph Lopez School of Hope,  Woodlawn School of Special Education, Edgehill School of Special Education , Llandilo School of Special Education and Windsor School of Special Education.

Intellectual disability refers to significant impairment in an individual’s mental development, which results in learning difficulties and poor performance in certain daily living skills. ID is diagnosed based on the following criteria – the individual’s intelligence quotient is below 70; there are significant limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas, and there is evidence of the condition before age 18. Persons with ID usually have no physical characteristics.

JAID  is a non-government organisation formed in 1955 and offers several services to children and adults with ID as well their parents, including psycho-educational assessments, placement of children, employment support, job placement, coaching and advocacy and empowerment training.

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