An Autism Student’s Poem Writing Endeavors: A Case Study in one of the Inclusive Schools

Submitted by Marwito Wihadi on Tue, 10/20/2020 - 14:41

Abstract

Having students with autism in inclusive schools is a challenge for any teachers mostly having no prior pedagogic insights concerning about students with special needs. It is the fact that the use of language learning strategies is important to reach their learning goals and give them a fun experience in their learning processes. Thus, this study aimed to see the deployment of language learning strategies as well as difficulty typologies confronted in poem writing by an autism student. This study employed a case study qualitative method for in-depth analysis. The data were collected through observation and interview to get the naturalness of the data. The study was conducted at one of senior high schools in Kuningan, involving one autism student among 34 other regular peers. The results showed that motivation in socio-affective strategy was made use of. It was additionally encountered that vocabularies, tenses and rhyme as his poem writing difficulties were prevalent, yet the ways to overcome them were figured out by using translating strategy in cognitive to get familiar with the learned vocabulary and tenses by using question for clarification strategy in socio-affective. It is concluded that certain learning strategies are prevalently advantageous for autism students to complete poem writing. It’s imperative that divergent writing genres be focused to unveil some insights.

 

Keywords: Inclusive schools, language learning strategies, autism, writing, poem text.

 

 

 

Introduction

Learning is essentially a "change" that occurs in a person after doing learning activities, such as reading from various sources, making a mistake and fixing it, getting information from teachers, friends or family, and others (Pane & Dasopang, 2017). According to (Oxford, 1990), “learning is conscious knowledge of language rules, does not typically lead to conversational fluency, and is derived from formal instruction.” Thus, learning in general, is a necessity in humans to be able to develop in a more modern, critical and innovative path. Therefore, from learning, humans will increasingly see the world differently.

Language means a technique in speaking by individuals (Martinez del Castillo, 2015). Furthermore, language learning, or target language, can be either a second language or a foreign language, in other words, it is generally defined as developing the ability to communicate in the second or foreign language (Oxford, 1990). According to Oxford (1990), the difference between learning a second language and learning a foreign language is looking at where the language is learned and what social and communicative functions the language provides there. She also mentioned that a second language has social and communicative functions within the society where it is learned. While a foreign language does not have direct social and communicative functions within the society where it is learned. By understanding Oxford’s explanation, language learning can be connected to the definition of English language learning which is also divided into two parts, second language and foreign language, and its similar definitions. Reflecting from Oxford’s definition, this study concentrated on the learning strategies used by autism in studying English as a foreign language one.

Learning strategies are personal; it will be different from one student to another so each student has his or her strategy in learning (Amir, 2018). Learning strategies are needed for students to be able to determine the way or forms of learning on what is easy and suitable to use to achieve their learning goals or academic achievement. Oxford as cited in (Amir, 2018), mentioned that strategies are also important in language learning because they can be useful tools for students in learning English in a way that is appropriate and fun for themselves. Effective language learners will better know which and what learning strategies are best to achieve their learning goals.

According to O'Malley and Chamot (1990), there are three main categories of language learning that include metacognitive, cognitive, and socio-affective strategies. Metacognitive related to planning for learning, thinking about the learning process, monitoring students' production or comprehension, and evaluating learning after the learning activities are accomplished. Cognitive strategies can be said as a form of students implementing their learning plans with the four language skills. This strategy contains repetition, organizing a new language, and using imagery for memorization. On the other hand, socio-affective strategies include the interaction of students with teachers or friends in the scope of learning activities. This strategy covers cooperation and question for clarification.

On this occasion, the writer aims to find out kinds of language learning strategies by O’Malley and Chamot employed by an autism student, specifically in English as a foreign language, in one of the high schools in Kuningan. Based on Peraturan Pemerintah No.70 Tahun 2009, regular schools, or inclusive schools, have been required to provide education rights for students who have special needs to be able to study with other typical students. In the terms of “inclusion”, it refers to the placement of children with special educational needs into the regular class and their acceptance by the other students (Alexandri, Papailiou, & Nikolaou, 2017). It is clear that at this time, the government has given concerns to those who have special needs, including autism, to be allowed to study in regular schools, not in special schools or Sekolah Luar Biasa (SLB) anymore.

Opening opportunities for children with autism, who have a social disability and developmental disorder (Mackenzie & Watts, 2009), to be able to study in regular schools also means that they will also get the same type, level, and learning materials, including English, like other regular students. Having students with autism in usual schools is a challenge for any teacher who mostly has no prior education about children with special needs. This situation can also be a way for teachers to increase creativity in teaching students, including teaching English in the more interesting, enjoyable and defying method.

There are some previous studies which also investigate a similar case with this study such as Koegel, Singh, & Koegel (2010) which focus on incorporating specific motivational variables such as choice, interspersal of maintenance tasks, and natural reinforcers during intervention leads to developments in main symptoms of autism and may possibly be effective in academic areas. Then, there is Yusuf, Jusoh, and Yusuf (2019) which focus on the outcomes of CL (Cooperative Learning) to enhance writing skill of ninth grade students in a middle school in Kuala Lumpur. The third is Kao & Reynolds (2017) which focuses on reclassifying Oxford’s (1990) strategy taxonomy by aiming at writing skills in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) setting and then uncovered whether or not there was any association between strategy use and perceived writing skill and writing problem among Taiwanese college students.

As described above, most studies examine the language learning strategies applied by students without any special needs as the subjects. So far, it is not found any study reporting the use of strategies to learn poem writing used by a senior high school high functioning autism student. High functioning autism (IQ above 70) is one of intelligence levels of autism which has a higher capability in certain subject or even equal to their normal peers with higher capability in certain subject too.

Other than that, the writer also wants to give a new perspective to people that autism students are also able to learn in a regular school with the same level and type of courses with other typical students, especially when they can be helped by teachers to be motivated to learn by promoting kinds of students learning strategies to them. This current study is then conducted in an attempt to: 1) identify the language learning strategies used by an autism student in poem writing, and to 2) explore the writing difficulties in poem text faced by the autism student.

 

Language Learning Strategies

There are several different classifications of language learning strategies revealed by experts. As the grounded theory of this study, the writer is oriented to the classification of learning strategies according to (O'Malley & Chamot, 1990). Based on their explanations, language learning strategies are classified into three: metacognitive (strategies related to learning process) cognitive (strategies related to applying a specific technique to a particular task), and socio-affective (strategies related to involving oneself and others).

Metacognitive strategies are mental processes or techniques that students use to control their learning (Goctu, 2017). Metacognitive strategies are very helpful in the writing process, these strategies contain: Advance organizers (relating to previewing the material to be learned, usually by skimming the text), directed attention (deciding in advance to attend in general to a learning task and to ignore irrelevant distractors), functional planning (relating to rewrite the important material to be learned in dealing with the next language task), selective attention (relating to choosing the specific aspects of information, often by scanning for keywords, concepts, and others), self-management (relating to deciding the best condition which helps one learn certain material better), self-monitoring (checking one’s understanding during listening or reading or testing the correctness of one’s oral or written production), self-evaluation (relating to conforming the results of one’s language learning against a standard after it has been accomplished).

Cognitive strategies allow students to use the material in a direct way, such as thinking, analysis, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing, elaborating, reorganizing information, and so forth (Goctu, 2017). Wicaksono (2016) classified cognitive abilities based on students' ability to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create (Wicaksono, 2016). Students' cognitive level differences allow them to have different ways and needs in managing their learning processes.  Kinds of cognitive strategies are: Translation (relating to utilizing the first language as a foundation for understanding and/or generating a second language), note-taking (writing down keywords or ideas in abbreviated verbal, graphic, or numerical form while listening or reading), resourcing (relating to using target language references such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, or textbooks), elaboration (relating new information to previous knowledge, relating dissimilar parts of new information to each other, or making meaningful personal relations with the new information), recombination (regarding constructing a meaningful sentence or larger language sequence by combining known elements in a new way).

Socio-affective strategies relate to interactions between students to manage their social and affective challenges (Vandergrift & Cross, 2018). This learning strategy is also related to students' emotions, motivations, and attitudes that can help them learn a language. O'Malley & Chamot (1990) divided these into: Cooperation (working together with one or more peers to solve a problem, pool information, check a learning task, model a language activity, or get feedback on oral or written performance) and question for clarification (eliciting teacher or peers’ additional explanations, rephrasing, examples, or verification).

 

Writing Learning Strategies

Based on O’Malley and Chamot (1990), the three language learning strategies can be used as strategies in certain task or skills by students who learn English as foreign language, specifically in writing task. They are metacognitive (self-monitoring, self-evaluation), cognitive (resourcing, translation, elaboration, and recombination), and socio-affective (student’s emotions, motivations, and attitudes)

For metacognitive, self-monitoring is checking one's understanding during listening or reading or testing the correctness and/or suitability of one's oral or written production (e.g., students ask their friends to check or correct their mistakes when memorizing material or memorize a dialogue that needs to be presented). While self-evaluation is confirming the results of one's language learning against a standard after it has been accomplished (e.g., students communicate with native speakers in English through social media).

For cognitive, resourcing is related to using target language references such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, or textbooks (e.g., students search for additional information via the internet or student textbooks). Translation is related to utilizing the first language as a foundation for understanding and/or generating a second language (e.g., students seek understanding of a target language's vocabulary (English) into their first language (Bahasa), or translate a text that is needed in the learning process). Elaboration is relating new information to previous knowledge, relating dissimilar parts of new information to each other, or making meaningful personal relations with the new information (e.g., students explain information in more detail using their own words along with prior knowledge they have obtained previously). While recombination is regarding constructing a meaningful sentence or larger language sequence by combining known elements in a new way (e.g., students use their former knowledge in writing a type of text into several paragraphs).

For socio-affective strategies, they are non-academic strategies that deal with learning that arouse student interest through setting the level of empathy between the teacher and students (Saeidi & Khaliliaqdam, 2013). They consist of two factors such as emotions and attitudes. In other words, socio-affective strategies have to do with the interaction or social processes of students with their learning environment, such as students with students and students with teachers. The advantage of this strategy also influences students in reducing anxiety levels, controlling emotions, and motivating themselves in learning by sharing one's problems with others, listening to music, making a diary, or even sharing stories with the teachers.

It can be concluded that O’Malley and Chamot has implicitly states that their language learning strategies has covered strategies that can be used to certain skills too. Such as advanced organizers in metacognitive, which is usually used for reading skills, and selective attention in metacognitive which is usually used in listening skills, and also some of strategies above that can be used for writing skills, and others.

 

 

Autism

Autism means a heterogeneous disorder (Veague, 2010). That means people with autism have a difference from the way they talk or behave, even their appearance.

In other words, autism people are not similar to each other. As said by Veague (2010), some people with autism are so impaired that they really need help from others as in dressing, eating, and their primary needs. Other people with autism can live pretty well, live independently, maintain relations, and work at high-level jobs. People with autism also show two types of shortfalls: social interaction, and verbal-nonverbal communication. This means that autistic people struggle in social skills as well as understanding the social signals of others.

Nevertheless, Mackenzie and Watts pointed out that autism does neither have to do with kind of disorder, nor illness, but rather a social disability (Mackenzie & Watts, 2009). They also define autism as a lasting developmental disability that influences the way a person socializes and relates to other people.

Autism is illustrated as having damages in reciprocal social communication and social interaction, and the occurrence of limited and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities (Padmadewi & Artini, 2017).  The student with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is rarely to start conversations than their friends, answer properly to the conversational turns and understand the meaning and the illocutionary intensity of utterances. Someone with autism is also difficult in understanding other people's emotions and struggle to use facial expressions to show their emotions.

 

Intelligence Levels of Autism Student

The level of human intelligence will surely differ from one another, as well as a person with autism. There are three bits of intelligence of special needs children with autism, high, medium, and low IQ (Indriasari, K., & Widyarani, 2018). Low functioning (IQ below 50) that he or she cannot live independently and will depend on others.  This category is the same as level 3 autism which is the most severe level. Medium functioning (IQ between 50-70) that is detected as a medium functioning, he or she can still maintain a social life and can learn in special schools for children with autism. High functioning (IQ above 70) autism that can be more able to live independently, even successful in his or her life such as working in high-level work and can still build relationships with family, even though the way to communicate is still a problem.

 

Poem Text

A poem is a group of verbal or written words that expresses thoughts or feelings in a powerfully lively and imaginative style (LiteraryDevices Editors, 2013). Writers or poets express their thoughts or feelings such as happy or sad, simple or complex through this kind of writing text. According to Emelda (2011), “A poem can either be rhyming or non-rhyming, uses symbols and has lines and stanzas that have sentences, fragments of sentences or both, and uses metaphor and alliteration, especially in poem for children.”

There are three main types of poetry (Thomas, 2010): descriptive or dramatic, narrative, and lyric. A descriptive poem focuses on details that portray a scene, a sound, a person, or a feeling in a very direct way. A narrative poem, such as Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride,” tells a story or part of one. A lyric poem, often written in the first person, is poem that expresses personal state of mind and ideas.

Meanwhile, there are several types of poems (LiteraryDevices Editors, 2013): 1) Haiku (a type of Japanese poem consisting of three unrhymed lines, with mostly five, seven, and five syllables in each line). 2) Free Verse (consists of non-rhyming lines, without any metrical pattern, but which follow a natural rhythm). 3) Epic (a form of lengthy poem, often written in blank verse, in which poet shows a protagonist in action of historical significance, or a great mythic).  4) Ballad (a type of narrative poem in which a story often talks about folk or legendary tales. It may take the form of a moral lesson or a song).

In order to deepen the reader’s understanding of a thought or an idea, draw attention to the message, increase the reading satisfaction, poets often use figures of speech and other figurative language. These are a variety of figurative languages (Thomas, 2010): Metaphor (a direct comparison between two things that does not use “like” or “as”. For example, “my mind is a clock ticking down the day”), onomatopoeia (using words that imitate sounds. For example, meow sounds like a cat, and boom sounds like an explosion), personification (giving human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, “the sun sprang orange into the lifting haze”), simile (an indirect comparison of one thing to another using the words “like” or “as”. For example, “his voice roiled like a storming sea, pulling me beneath it”), etc.

 

Learning Writing Poem for Autism Student

Here are characteristics of autism student that generally emerge in the process of teaching and learning, especially in creating a poem and the good way to overcome them (Richardson, 2018): 1) Not all students with autism understand information the same way; using a one-size-fits-it-all approach is unsuitable; being open-minded and innovative is important. 2) Students with autism can become distracted easier with lengthy explanations, so teachers have to be straightforward. 3) Teachers have to give out specific instructions (with visual stimuli) and guidelines, so students with autism can construct the poem. 4) Some students with autism might have difficulty remembering what they have learned. Nevertheless, others might have extraordinary memories. In either case, teachers should adjust their teaching style according to the needs of each student. Singing and reading the poem to students with autism can help them remember the poem, and appreciate the poem. Creating a fun learning process is a crucial thing that teachers should do for students with autism. 5) Many students with autism benefit from visual stimuli in which they may learn faster by watching images and connecting them with the content they must learn, for example, PowerPoint presentations and videotapes. 6) Students with autism are sometimes easily distracted or unfocused with any kind of activities, so teachers should notice whether or not they feel comfortable and try to alter the environment. Giving them with inspiration is also possible to make students with autism being more focused on what they are doing, specifically in creating a poem. 7) Last but not least, one of the best activities that could help students with autism develop their creativity is drawing. Drawing is also a visual stimulus that can help students with autism create poem in an easy and fun way.

 

Writing Difficulties of Autism Student

Delano, 2007a writes that there has been little study investigated on the academic needs of students with autism, which is surprising seeing the number of students being recognized on the autism spectrum. Students with autism often deal with academic problems and may have learning disabilities, along with organizational difficulties, inflexibility, and literal thinking styles. Difficulties in these parts could impact an autism student’s written language ability (Delano, 2007a).

Hans Asperger explained the academic abilities of his patients as frequently failed in reading, writing, and math (Griswold, Barnhill, Myles, Hagiwara, & Simpson, 2002). The exception was when the student’s special interests corresponding with the subject matter under consideration. Griswold et al. (2002) observed the formal and informal written expression skills of 16 teenage students with autism in first language writing (L1) compared to neurotypical students. The result of that study showed that the students with autism’s performance changed. The sentences written by the autism students tended to be shorter and less complex than regular peers. Delano (2007) adds that the sentences produced by the autism students in L1 writing are poorly organized too (Delano, Use of Strategy Instruction to Improve the Story Writing Skills of a Student With Asperger Syndrome, 2007).

Meanwhile, according to Benwell (2019), understanding colloquialisms and idiomatic English may be very difficult for autistic language learners. Instead, many students on the autism spectrum surpass at memorization, and may be able to gain a large vocabulary, making it easier to understand and reproduce formal written and spoken language than their other peers. According to her, students with autism appreciate rules and structures and may enjoy learning the grammar of a second language.

 

Method

The research of this study is qualitative by applying a case study design. The data collected are in the form of words, pictures and tables rather than numbers in natural setting because the writer tried to get involved deeply in teaching and learning situation. The study was conducted at one of senior high schools in Kuningan which opens opportunity for children with special needs to have similar level and types of learning with other regular children. The subject of this study is a high-functioning level (with IQ of 87) of autism student from 34 regular students in eleventh-grade in academic year 2019/2020.

There are two techniques which are used to collect data for the purpose of this study. The techniques are observation and interview. Observation is used with field notes only to identify the autism student’s language learning strategies in poem writing on February 18th and 20th 2020 in one of senior high schools in Kuningan where the autism student at eleventh-grade is studying. Here is the table of observation field notes that the writer employed:

Table 1. Observation Field Notes

Day/Date

Language Learning Strategies

The Autism Student’s Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last one is interview which is used in the form of structured interview questions adapted and developed from the structured interview guideline about school-age stuttering by McGill, Weybright, and McMillin (2017)  to explore poem writing difficulties by the autism student by asking one of his regular peers, his mother and also asking the autism student himself to get the additional language learning strategies that cannot be gain by observation only because it relates to his inner processes.

Then, in analyzing the data, the writer used data analysis from Creswell (2007) and one additional analysis from Kvale (1996). The data analyses are divided into three for observation (Creswell, 2007): 1) Preparing and organizing the data, 2) reducing the data into themes, and 3) representing the data. Then, the data analyses are divided into four for interview (Creswell, 2007; Kvale, 1996): 1) Preparing and organizing the data, 2) reducing the data into themes, 3) re-interview, 4) representing the data. In reducing the data into themes, the observation and interviews’ findings are matched with the specific kinds of language learning strategies in metacognitive, cognitive, and socio affective.

 

 

 

 

 

Findings and Discussion

 

The Language Learning Strategies Used by The Autism Student in Poem Writing

The result of the observation is provided in a table below:

Table 2. Clasroom Observation Result

Day/Date

Language Learning Strategies

The Autism Student’s Activities

Tuesday

Feb, 18th 2020

Directed Attention

(Metacognitive)

The autism student raises his hand to be the first one who wants to read a Poem text instructed by the writer so that he and all of his friends understand deeply about the text.

Thursday

Feb, 20th 2020

Question for clarification

(Socio-affective)

 

 

 

Translating

(Cognitive)

The autism student came forward to the writer and asked for clarification about the poem.

 

The autism student who seemed to use his smartphone and the writer slightly saw it was displaying the google translate.

 

The writer chooses the observation results from 2020 in one of high schools in Kuningan where the subject is studying by using field notes. The letter of permission is given formally on February 17th 2020 to school. The writer also asks for some documents regarding the autism student’s IQ (Intelligent Quotient) tests. The writer found that the IQ tests consist of two, the first one is the junior high IQ test with an IQ of 95 while the second one is the senior high IQ test with an IQ of 87. Both of the test results the autism student has decreased cause by his tired condition deals with the IQ tests. However, those tests are quite helpful to the writer to conclude that the student is in a high-functioning level of autism.

The observation takes place in XI MIPA 1 by focusing only on the autism student. The first observation was done on February, 18th 2020. The first lesson was Poem and it was also the first findings that the writer found in the subject when he raised his hand to be the one who wanted to read the poem out loud. The student with autism used directed attention in metacognitive to measure his reading skills by read the poem out loud, and also his pronunciation. 

The last observation was on February, 20th 2020 by continuing the previous Poem lesson. The writer gave a writing challenge about the poem to students and also give them opportunities to look for dictionaries through online using their smartphone. When they were ready, the writer gave them a poem challenge as she promised. The challenge was like this:

“Write a poem or story where the first letters of each line or paragraph make a word or the alphabet. For example:

Below me lies the ground

I see it as I fly

Ready am I to sing as

Daylight fills the sky.”

At that time, the autism student came forward to the writer and asked about the poem. The writer saw that he was a little bit confused but asked for clarification to the writer with "different understanding" about the challenge and because he was quite hard to understand, the writer just let him be and saw the work later after he finished it. At this rate, the writer concluded that the student with autism used question for clarification in socio-affective. The writer, then, walked around the class to see each student’s progress in doing Poem, specifically the autism student who seemed to use his smartphone and the writer slightly saw it was displaying the google translate, so the writer concluded that he also used google translate to help him found any vocabularies for his poem writing. Other than that, the writer also found that he immediately wrote the poem in English while using a pen and did not use any kind of draft like everyone did. At this rate, the writer concluded that the autism student used translating in cognitive. Finally, all students completed the challenge for approximately one hour in a paper and collected them to the writer to give them a score later.

 

The Writing difficulties in Poem Text Faced by The Autism Student

The writer also implemented the interview on February, 21st 2020 and August, 25th 2020 by using structured interview through the interview guideline to the main subject, his mother, and one of his peers on Instagram and Whatsapp, and directly. The main subject or the autism student’s interview produced an explanation or answer about his difficulties in creating a poem and also some additional information that cannot be gained in observation only (because it relates to the autism student’s mind processes or inner processes) which the autism student is used in creating a poem, they are motivation (socio-affective) as the main learning strategy, then he is affected to use recombination (cognitive) and self-management (metacognitive).  Recombination is used by the autism student by trying to use figurative languages, while it turns out that he does not use any of them, or “beautiful sentences” to make a poem becomes rich, colorful and attractive, and another reason of using recombination strategy is when he also has learned poem in junior high school.

Figure 1. The Autism Student’s Poem Writing

Image removed.

So, when the writer asked him to create a poem text challenge, he already uses his previous knowledges in junior high. While self-management is employed by the autism student when he prefers calmer surrounding rather than noisy one, specifically in creating a poem text. Another language learning strategy that he used is motivation in socio-affective by wanting to be a motor racer like MotoGP racers which has been known internationally and becoming a pilot. For the main findings, based on an interview, reveals that the autism student attains that vocabularies, tenses, and also rhyme in poem become his main difficulty in writing.  However, it seems that the autism student has also found a way to overcome his problems in vocabularies by using online dictionary (translating strategy in cognitive) and tenses by asking his friends (using question for clarification strategy in socio affective).

On the other hand, based on the combined interview’s results between the autism student and his regular peer, there is a negative result in cooperative learning. Below is a review of the classroom observation’s result and interviews of language learning strategies used by an autism student in writing, so it can make a clear illustration of what the writer discusses here:

 

Table 3. Interview and Observation Results

Language Learning Strategies

The Autism Student’s Activities

Self-Management

(Metacognitive)

The autism student prefers calmer surrounding rather than noisy one, specifically in writing a poem text.

Translation

(Cognitive)

The autism student used an online dictionary (Google Translate) when he found some difficulties in creating a poem text challenge.

Recombination

(Cognitive)

The autism student used his previous knowledges in creating a poem text challenge instructed by the writer.

Question for Clarification

(Socio affective)

The autism student asked for clarification about the poem to the writer.

Motivation

(Socio-affective)

  1. The autism student wants to be a motor racer like MotoGP racers which has been known internationally, so that he masters English well.
  2. The autism student wants to be a pilot so that he masters English well because a pilot has responsibility in mastering English.

 

Looking at the table above, there is a motivation in socio-affective which is actually more “dominant” here because according to Vandergrift and Cross (2018), socio-affective strategy is related to students' emotions, motivations, and attitudes that can help them learn a language. Other motivation that he wants to be is becoming a pilot. This means that his future goal can be an important motivation to him to learn English more than everyone else. In other words, motivation in socio-affective influence the other language learning strategies that are used by the autism student in creating a poem text by using translation, recombination, question for clarification, and self-management strategies. Because when a student can be motivated well or has his/her own motivation to learn something, especially English, all of challenges and difficulties in learning will be solved easier, as well as understanding the material better than everyone else. Regarding with motivation, according to Koegel, Singh, & Koegel (2010) claim that implementing motivation to the student with autism can result in faster completion rates, reduce disruptive behavior, and increase their interest in learning.

The autism student’s future goal can be an important motivation to him to learn English more than everyone else. In other words, motivation in socio-affective influence the other language learning strategies that are used by the autism student in creating a poem text by using translation, recombination, question for clarification, and self-management strategies. Because when a student can be motivated well or has his/her own motivation to learn something, especially English, all of challenges and difficulties in learning, especially in writing a poem text, will be solved easier, as well as understanding the material better than everyone else. Regarding with motivation, according to Koegel, Singh, and Koegel (2010) claim that to the student with autism, motivation can result in faster completion rates, reduce disruptive behavior, and increase their interest in learning.

Furthermore, the use of translation and recombination strategies which belong to the cognitive strategy in O’Malley and Chamot’s language learning strategies are used and affected by the autism student’s motivation in socio-affective. Recombination strategy is used by the autism student by putting his previous knowledges about poem in creating a poem text challenge instructed by the writer. Putting figures of speech or trying to put “beautiful words” into his poem task, though there are no figures of speech in his poem text, and how to construct the poem itself are also related to recombination strategy. Meanwhile, translation strategy that the autism student is used by placing the difficult words he is already searched on an online dictionary into his writing.

Other additional “helping strategies” which are used by the autism student in writing a poem are self-management in metacognitive and asking for clarification in socio-affective. Self-management in metacognitive, that is used by the autism student when he prefers calmer surrounding rather than noisy one, specifically in writing a poem text. While, question for clarification strategy is used by the autism student to ask for clarification on how the rules of the poem text challenge to the writer. In the way the autism student uses question for clarification strategy is in line with O’Malley and Chamot’s language learning strategies (1990 in Tanjung, 2018) which explain that question for clarification requires eliciting from a teacher or peers additional explanations, rephrasing, examples, or verification, such as asking friends, or teachers to get clarification about an assignment or problem that is still difficult to understand.

With regard to writing difficulties faced by the autism student in writing poem, the interview with the autism student’s result reveals that he deals with vocabularies, tenses, and rhyme.

In vocabularies, this possibly happens because the autism student finds a hard time to choose the appropriate vocabularies into his poem text, because of English has different kind of meaning in one word and suitability with the following sentence. While another is the autism student himself who is still learning English so he does not know much about English vocabularies as other normal people are often faced.

In the term of tenses, the writer can predict that the autism student has a hard time determining the tenses’ formulas in poem writing and their differences because according to Sinta & Astutik (2019), all of the sentence in Indonesia whether it is the present, past, or future has the same structure, but it is totally dissimilar in English. While in literary theory, for example is poem writing, the present tense is often used as the tense which is most proper for “lyric poetry”, and sometimes it is used the future tense. However, because probably the autism student did not know yet about poem, theoretically at that time, he then says that he sees that tenses are complicated in English writing.

Whereas in the term of rhyme, the autism student is hard to use rhyming words into his poem text. However, according to Emelda (2011), a poem can be either a rhyming or non-rhyming. So that means that whether or not the autism student uses rhyme into his poem text, it is still a poem. Because, a poem is meant to be verbal or written words that expresses thoughts or feelings in a powerfully lively and imaginative style (LiteraryDevices Editors, 2013). Based on LiteraryDevices editors, there is also Free Verse that includes to the kinds of Poem in which it consists of non-rhyming lines, without any metrical pattern, but which follow a natural rhythm.

Aside from that, based on the first interview, the autism student seems to be able to surmount his problems by: (1) Using online dictionary to resolve his vocabularies complicatedness (using translating strategy in cognitive), and (2) asking his teachers and friends about tenses that difficult him (using question for clarification strategy in socio affective). This is also in line with Koegel, Singh, and Koegel (2010) who states that if students already have their own motivation to learn, they will ask to do more certain subject (e.g., math or English) and writing tasks. It can be mean that after gaining their “purposes” to learn English, students will also be able to self-learn and learn independently by solving problems and conveying their ideas well. However, the writer cannot believe that those problems can be solved easily just by using online dictionary and asking others because if those things are not followed by supervision from people who are “experts” in this English education field, which are teachers, regular students or even the autism student cannot recognize if what they have done is already followed the English rules or not, and the worst thing is that they will likely repeat the same mistakes in the future that they always did and did not realize in the past. This description is supported by Sinta and Astutik (2019) who say that the reasons students get difficulties in writing is that they often use online dictionary and translate words or sentences straightforwardly without guidance and students do not notice the language structure.

These findings contrast to some other research results such as informed by Azizi, Nemati, and Estahbanati (2017) who find that there is significant correlation between metacognitive strategies and students’ writing performance and successful students use metacognitive learning strategies more than others. Along the same line, Tabrizi and Rajaee, (2016) also uncover that students who use metacognitive strategies outperform students who use cognitive ones in writing. The other, is Zuhairi and Umamah (2016) who also claim that cognitive strategies are the most common strategies used by their regular subjects. These dissimilar findings among those studies due to: (1) Results as explained before, (2) distinct subjects, (3) utilizing treatment exists as in the study done by Yusuf et al. This current study involves a high functioning level of autism at the eleventh-grade in one of senior high schools as the subject in which the autism student has social interaction disturbance, communication difficulty, and behavioral disorders (Desiningrum, 2016) that is different from regular students in the previous studies. This autism student’s IQ is also can be a reason that his results in using language learning strategies is different from previous studies (Indriasari, Widyarani, and Daniyati K, 2018) which investigate normal students as their main subjects. The school’s insight for students with special needs, treatments, and the autism student’s condition, make him a little bit hard to really use other strategies because he does not know any kind of strategies that can be employed in his writing (because of teachers’ lack attention and methods) especially in cognitive strategies that can help students, probably the autism student, to create a better writing text. It can be said that those things will also influence students with disabilities’ capability in writing (Graham, Collins, and Rigby-Wills, 2017). On the other hand, Yusuf et al. utilize a CL (cooperative learning) treatment to their subjects in order to see whether or not the students can achieve better writing scores, and it turns out that the treatment works well to the students, while in this case, the autism student is not given the necessary treatment by teachers because teachers also do not focus on teaching writing to students. This autism student’s IQ is also can be a reason that his results in using language learning strategies is different from previous study (Indriasari, K., & Widyarani, 2018) which investigate normal students as their main subjects.

The school’s insight for students with special needs, treatments, and the autism student’s condition, make him a little bit hard to use other strategies because he does not know any kind of strategies that can be employed in his writing (because of teachers’ lack attention and methods) especially in cognitive strategies that can help students, probably the autism student, to create a better writing text. It can be said that those things will also influence students with disabilities’ capability in writing (Graham, Collins, & Rigby-Wills, 2017).

On the other hand, Yusuf et al. utilize a CL (cooperative learning) treatment to their subjects in order to see whether or not the students can achieve better writing scores, and it turns out that the treatment works well to the students, while in this case, the autism student is not given the necessary treatment by teachers.

Both results to answer both research questions, especially to answer the second research question, are indeed not so different from those who does not have autism record. This is because the autism student is at the high-functioning level of autism, or in other words, the autism student is at a high-level IQ of autism, almost have in common with those who are non-autism children in their learning, especially in English. For example, when other typical students find a little difficulty in their learning, there is a possibility that this high-functioning level of autism will also find a little difficulty in learning. Specifically, in learning a second language as investigated by Barletta (2018), who claims that his high-functioning level of autism subject is showing behaviors that resemble to different phases of development of L2 of typical students, which means that her subject follows a path similar to the one described for typical students.

Furthermore, the autism student in this study usually looks for clarity on, for example, English subjects which is not quite understood, to his English teachers and his friends, in which both of them include in the question for clarification strategy category in socio affective. This is in line with Barletta (2018) who says that “one-to-one interaction with an adult that helps the child focus on language within the zone of proximal development could compensate this difficulty (social interaction skill) and help him/her go through the process of internalization and satisfy their natural interests in discrete items.”

Moreover, Barletta’s result indicates that “perhaps autistic children belong to this category by definition and are able to develop metalinguistic awareness at above average level.”  This corresponds with current study’s result which finds that the autism student has a high ability and understanding of English and is almost similar with several other typical students who are also able to learn English. Continuing her previous statement about metalinguistic, she describes that “after all, the presence of metalinguistic comments in the L1, according to Lantolf, 2003, as well as overt comparison between the L1 and the L2 is a characteristic of adult learners of an L2.”

After all, though an autism person's intelligence is high, he or she is still weak in socializing because autism is still a social disability, yet its symptom differs from one another regarding a level of intelligence a person of autism has. Attention and focus is the other main problems the autism student in this study has, so according to Barletta (2018), special effort should be made to bridge their interests and the language tasks, like sharing information between English teacher and the autism student apart from teaching-learning activities in the classroom.

 

Conclusion

This study aims to answer two research questions, namely what are the language learning strategies used by an autism student in poem writing? and what are the writing difficulties in poem faced by the autism student? Thus, the writer explores language learning strategies used by a high-functioning level of autism student in poem writing and his difficulties in poem writing.

The writer finds out the answer to first research question in the first chapter. Regarding with the first research question, this study shows that the autism student applies motivation in socio-affective strategy as the main language learning strategy and affected four strategies namely translation, recombination, self-management, and question for clarification that he used in poem writing. Translation is used by the autism student in finding some difficult vocabularies in English, while recombination is used by the autism student in employing his previous knowledge, self-management is used to find calmer surrounding. It is also reported for the second research question that the autism student encounters vocabularies, tenses and rhyme as his poem writing difficulties, yet he also finds the way to overcome vocabularies by using translating strategy to get new vocabularies he does not know and tenses by using question for clarification strategy. This is because that the autism student is at high-functioning level of autism who can have the same abilities and difficulties with other typical students, even those who have high intelligence in English.

The essence of this study is intended to be able to provide a new perspective to teachers, especially those who teach students with special needs in inclusive schools on the importance of giving education to students with special needs, especially autism students in the terms of opportunities to get the same knowledge as other typical ones. This study is also intended to be able to provide contribution to teachers on the importance of motivating and giving attention to students with special needs of learning strategies that are suitable and exciting for them. So that those learning strategies can help them to achieve their learning goals easier.

 

 

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