The cross : Is the presence of an accompanying person for disabled students (AESH) with a disabled student always necessary?
Marc Blin: By putting a priori an AESH with a child, we consider that it is the diagnosis that prescribes the need for support and we no longer wonder about his particular needs, his singularity.
→ LARGE FORMAT. The AESH, these “invisible” which open the school to handicapped children
If we could, first of all, welcome the pupil, like all the others, to identify the possibly missing resources, then we could, then, seek the expertise of the families and decide, if necessary, on a time AESH whose outline and missions could be defined much more clearly in consultation with the teaching team.
These accompanying persons often complain of being insufficiently trained in the diversity of disabilities …
MB: Progress has been made. But the compulsory 60 hours of training for entry into the profession are not thought out and organized in the same way across the country. Some academies offer spaces for reflection on professional practices and help in finding resources. Even if there is no exhaustive training, which is valid for all support professions, this time envelope remains insufficient.
→ CRITICAL. Parents of autistic children, a daily struggle
Isn’t the fragility of the status of these accompanying persons a reflection of that of the inclusive French school?
MB: The AESH are indeed fragile on the institutional level (salary, status, lack of pre-requisite qualification) but also in the classes where they operate. How can you develop professional self-esteem when you are not included in the child’s education monitoring teams? Or are you forbidden to speak with parents? They are asked to achieve inclusion by giving them an often narrow place. Even if this goes well in most cases, teachers sometimes relegate the AESH-student pair to the back of the class or simply do not participate in the educational effort.
Does this mean that inclusive school is not yet a reality?
MB: We are not there yet because it requires a profound change of culture. A child with an intellectual disability is necessarily slower than others, lagging behind in learning. You have to adapt to it rather than thinking that the reference to the program is still required.
→ ARCHIVES. How to better welcome disabled students at school
Teachers should be helped not to think too often of “compensation”. I am thinking, among other things, of a school principal who welcomed a pupil of a small kindergarten section with Down’s syndrome. A month after the start of the school year, she urgently requested a child’s chair with armrests for the time of regrouping in class because he kept falling off the bench. If she had thought of placing this student in the middle of the other children and not at the end of the bench, she could have observed if these falls were a “behavioral choice” or an effect of the system.