Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge Course Curriculum for Children with Autism: A Study on the Debates on the Possibility of Religion and Religious EducationSümeyra Bilecik
Autism is a development disorder that appears in social behaviors, communication disorder and obsessive behaviors. This disorder which cause cannot be determined, may decrease within the life of the individual and even its effects may be completely eliminated. Autistic individuals can be educated according to their autism and development levels. In this way, can be reduced negative effects of autism. While the possibility of education of autistic people in other areas is not open to debate, the religious perceptions and the possibility of religious educations of autistic people are discussed. The issue has raised with the inclusion of religious culture and ethics courses in special education programs in 2010 in Turkey. In this study, the possibility of religious and religious education in autistic people was discussed in the light of research which gave different results in literature and religious culture and ethics curricula were examined in scope of these results. Thus, it is aimed to shed light on the qualities of programs that may be more effective for autistic individuals.
Otizmli Çocuklar için İlköğretim Din Kültürü ve Ahlak Bilgisi Dersi Öğretim Programı: Otizmlilerde Din ve Din Eğitiminin İmkânı Tartışmaları Çerçevesinde Bir İncelemeSümeyra Bilecik
Otizm, sosyal davranış, iletişim bozukluğu ve tekrarlanan takıntılı davranışlarla kendisini gösteren bir gelişim bozukluğudur. Nedeni tespit edilemeyen bu bozukluk, bireyin yaşamı içerisinde azalabilmekte hatta etkileri tamamen ortadan kalkabilmektedir. Otizmli bireyler otizm ve gelişim düzeylerine göre eğitim alabilmektedirler ve bu sayede otizmin olumsuz etkileri en aza indirilebilmektedir. Otizmli bireylerin diğer alanlardaki eğitiminin imkânı tartışmaya mahal vermeyecek biçimde açıkken din algıları ve din eğitiminin imkânı tartışılmıştır. Türkiye’de 2010 yılında özel eğitim programlarında DKAB dersinin yer almasıyla konu gündeme gelmiştir. Bu çalışmada otizmlilerde din ve din eğitiminin imkânı, literatürde farklı sonuç veren araştırmalar ışığında tartışılmış ve otizmli bireyler için hazırlanmış DKAB programı bu sonuçlar kapsamında incelenmiştir. Böylelikle otizmli bireyler için daha etkili olabilecek programların niteliklerine ışık tutmak amaçlanmıştır.
Autism is defined as the inability to establish relations with people and situations, the inability to use the language in an adequate and accurate manner, an obsessive repetition of the same behavior, and a developmental problem in which various obsessions are observed. There is no absolute treatment for this developmental problem, which manifests itself in the first or second years of life. However, individuals who have autism are brought into society through education.
In Turkey, the education of individuals who have autism is carried out in special education schools, in Inclusive Classes at schools, and in private training centers after the diagnosis is made with individual tests. In these centers, education is carried out with many different disciplines. The Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge (RCMK) courses took their place in special education curricula as a compulsory course for the first time in 2010. This decision brought with it many debates on the existence and teaching of religious courses in autistic individuals. When the literature is reviewed on the possibility of religion and religious education in autistic individuals, it is seen that there are some opinions arguing that autistic individuals cannot perceive religion, and therefore, it is not possible for them to receive any religious education.
The basis of these views is that individuals with autism are not able to perceive abstract concepts, metaphorical discourses and symbolic expressions and are insufficient in socializing. The basic arguments of the previous studies are that religions include abstract and symbolic expressions and the participation to congregations is compulsory, which do not comply with the aforementioned characteristics of the autistic individuals. On the other hand, there are also several viewpoints in the literature arguing that autistic individuals are able to perceive religion, create their own image of God, and in case appropriate conditions are prepared, can worship. On the basis of these viewpoints, there is the idea that abstract religious concepts may be explained by using appropriate methods and techniques, and positive contributions may be made to autistic individuals by making use of the socializing sphere of the religion when appropriate conditions are prepared.
The different viewpoints on this subject in the literature may affect the legitimacy of the existence of religious courses that are prepared for autistic individuals; and may also be important in determining whether the subjects in the curriculum are suitable for individuals with autism. Based on this, in the present study, previous studies conducted on the possibility of religion and religious education in autistic individuals were examined, and the Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge curricula that were prepared for autistic individuals were evaluated in the light of the data reported by these studies. As a result of the study, it was determined that all of previous studies on religious education in autistic individuals were conducted with individuals who had religions other than Islam or with their families. However, the unique structure of the Islamic religion differs from other religions with the teaching and perception form of it. Based on this, it was decided that the current studies should also be conducted with children of Muslim families in Turkey. In addition, in the literature review, it was also determined in previous studies reporting positive results that practical subjects were focused on in religious education. It was also emphasized that individuals should participate to rituals in an applicable way, Allah should be perceived as a “being” that the individual should feel an attachment and pray to, and religious expressions should be used in everyday life. In this context, it was observed that the RCMK curriculum was based on cognitive acquisitions, and that there were very limited acquisitions on affective and psychomotor fields.
In this context, it is possible to argue that the current curriculum does not overlap with the relevant literature at an adequate level. Another interesting point about the RCMK is that the curriculum was prepared for students who had moderate-to-severe mental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. However, in actual fact, autistic individuals with high-functioning may show different developmental characteristics that are specific to autism, and they may also have normal intelligence function or some superior abilities. The current curriculum does not address high-functioning autism, and there are no other separate curricula prepared for them. In this case, it may be recommended to conduct curriculum development studies for individuals with high-functioning autism. In addition, it was also determined as a result of the present study that the needs of the individuals with autism in terms of religion and religious education must be determined; and subjects, contents and learning-teaching activities must be prepared in line with these needs.
It is considered that this study, which was conducted with the Literature Review and Content Analysis Method will shed light on the religious education issue in autistic individuals, which has emerged as a new field of application in our country; and will contribute to curriculum development studies for Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge courses.