'The Big Bang Theory' As Asperger's Training Tool? Teacher Told To Watch Sitcom To Help Special Needs Students

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 03, 04:00 am

A teacher whose job is to rear and guide special needs kids with Asperger's syndrome was told to watch "The Big Bang Theory" as a training tool. Members of the Scottish parliament heard this from a testimony as government leaders discussed teacher training and education improvement.

Training instructor Sylvia Haughney testified many current special needs workers do not receive adequate training from the government. She learned that some support staff workers dealing with the children were recommend to watch the sitcom instead of undergoing specialist guidance, according to BBC.

Haughney expressed disappointment that this is the current level of training for special needs teachers. It's a stark contrast from when Haughney first started as a teacher 34 years ago. She said that training back then included sessions with psychologists and speech or language therapists, as per STV News.

"The Big Bang Theory" is a popular American TV show that features highly intelligent but socially inept characters. Viewers believe one of the characters — Sheldon Cooper, who is played by actor Jim Parsons — has Asperger's syndrome, a type of disorder in the autism spectrum.

Colin Crawford of the Education Department at the Glasgow City Council confirmed that special needs teachers currently get "fairly superficial training." He added, however, the government is supposedly "trying to address" the situation.

"This is jaw-dropping. Watching a sitcom is no substitute for proper training for teachers," Daniel Johnson of the Labor party said, per Express. "More broadly, the evidence we've received leaves me far from convinced that teachers are being properly supported."

Apart from Haughney's statements, the hearing committee have some 240 testimonies on why teacher training and support need the government's immediate attention. Some 24.9 percent of students require special needs guidance in schools but the rate of teachers qualified for such a task has dropped.

Following the hearing, the Scotland government released a statement. "We want all children and young people to receive the support that they need to achieve their full learning potential," the statement read, according to The Courier. "Education authorities have duties to identify, provide for and to review the additional support needs under the Additional Support for Learning Act, including those arising from autism."

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