From The Asahi
December 14 2020
JAPAN– More students than a decade ago are being identified by their teachers as likely having a developmental disability, meaning they require extra classroom support, according to data released by the education ministry.
But while the survey results released on Dec. 13 suggest some small progress is being made in identifying these students, it also raises a red flag that about two-fifths are still not receiving the special care they need.
About 89,000 students were selected for the study, which asked their homeroom teachers whether they had identified students that might have a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or high-functioning autism.
According to the survey, 8.8 percent of students attending classes at public elementary and junior high schools in Japan—12.1 percent of the boys and 5.4 percent of the girls—exhibited “significant difficulty in an aspect of learning or in a behavioral phase.”
That is up 2.3 percentage points from a decade ago, although a simple comparison cannot be made because of differences in the contents of some questions.
That means in a class of 35 students, about three could have a developmental disability.
Hidenori Miyazaki, head of the Promotion of National Federation of Special Needs Education, chaired a panel of experts that analyzed the survey data, which is collected every 10 years.
Miyazaki said this increase is partly because “teachers and parents understand (the issue) better and are paying more attention to children with (learning) difficulties, who used to go unnoticed.”
Many of these students, though, are still falling through the cracks.
The survey shows that while teachers gave special consideration or extra support to 54.9 percent of the students who might have these disabilities, 43.2 percent were given none.
Such special care might include assigning them seats close to the teacher or letting them study in small group settings.
The figure for those receiving special attention is up, though, by 10.3 percentage points from the previous survey.
In addition, 10.6 percent of the students identified as likely having disabilities belong to a regular class but take some special classes in a separate classroom. That figure is up 6.7 percentage points from the previous survey.
Meanwhile, 28.7 percent were deemed by school panels as students requiring extra classroom support and then received it at school. That is 10.3 percentage points higher than in the previous study.
The latest survey was conducted from January to February this year, and the response rate was 84.6 percent.
The survey did not make any official medical assessments of whether the students have developmental disorders.