The “Inclusion Debate” is whether or not to mainstream special education students with students who do not need special assistance. This is a controversial claim because many believe that if these students aren’t mainstreamed with “everyone else” it might mean that all children are not valued equally; however, this is not necessarily the case. I am going to school to become a Special Education instructor and I also work as an instructional assistant in a Special Education classroom at a high school in my town. The Inclusion Debate is something that is still a heated argument and I am in favor for it for several reasons.
First, it’s scientifically proven that it helps sped students reach their highest point in development. Also, if we don’t include sped students like any other student we’ll never know how far their brain can develop and how much they can actually learn. It not only helps them to interact and reach their highest educational goals but also become more socially acclimated with their peers and understand what is socially acceptable and not acceptable which assists the mainstream students become socially acclimated, for them to understand these students are just like you and I.
They, sped students, have every right to earn an education and be a part of society as well. “There is much evidence to suggest that students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”) can benefit from integration with typical peers. One of the most effective ways teachers can prepare for the inclusion of a student with disabilities is to develop an understanding about the disorder by obtaining appropriate and accurate information. Having access to this information fosters understanding and facilitates a positive attitude toward the challenge of including a student with disabilities.
It is also important to gain knowledge about effective inclusion strategies; this can be achieved through seeking out professional development experiences, reading, and talking to or observing teachers with successful experience teaching students in integrated settings. Students with disabilities constitute a diverse group, so it is important to acquire as much information about each individual student as possible” (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2010). These findings are from instructors who have successfully mainstreamed special education students with average students.
This is important because it demonstrates that successful inclusion, or mainstreaming, special education students can be done and is done more frequently than many people know. In this paragraph from Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, the authors make it clear that mainstreaming special education students can be done and done well if approached in a systematic manner that respects the student but also lets the other students know that it’s okay to be diverse.
In this book the target audience is instructors who either are or may be considering mainstreaming special education students into their classroom or even curious individuals wondering what the Inclusion Debate is about. Pierangelo and Giuliani anticipated implications on learning for average students may be the behavior of sped students: “Being proactive and anticipating potential problems increases the likely hood of successful inclusion. This involves identifying potential difficulties, the student may encounter in the classroom, and developing strategies to deal with or avoid such issues.
Teachers also need to develop ways to facilitate peer interactions, consider behavioral issues and develop support plans. ” Students with disabilities have unique ways to learn so it’s not strange that they have forgotten simple things, or patterns, previously learned. Sometime students with a disorder may be able to excel at one task but not another; however, it is important for the teachers to realize that it may be a learning difference for this student.
Also in integrating the sped student with students who have no special needs, the students should become familiar with these patterns so that they may not disrupt their learning and perhaps they may be able to help that student in a positive manner. “It is important to base expectations based on knowledge of the disorder and on knowledge of each individual students’ strength and needs which is collectively responsibility of teachers, teacher assistants, school administrators, school district consultants and parents working together to make the experience successful for all” (Edmunds & Macmillan, 2010).
Something that some may ask is, “Is it important for sped students to have pre-requisites before they integrate into a normal classroom setting? ” I believe that this is unnecessary and so do Pierangelo and Giuliani. “Competent social skills are essential to successful inclusion; however, it is unrealistic to postpone integration until the student has developed all the prerequisite social skills because some students who would benefit from inclusion may take several years to develop even basic peer interaction skills. If you postpone a student from attending school with peers of their age and make them go through home-schooling or other schooling, they will never have an opportunity to interact with their peers. In turn, their social skills will be delayed even longer in the developmental process.
“In the home and pre-school environments, teachers and parents together, can prepare students for inclusion by increasing their awareness and interest in peers. It is proven that a child who is not socially acclimated with peers, the same people of their age, have less social skills than ones who are involved in a higher amount of peer interaction (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2010). This goes for even “average” students. The more exposure they receive, the better chance of higher functioning they may be. To promote understanding of students with disabilities to your mainstream classroom, it is important to treat all students as equals. “The most effective way to promote understanding and acceptance in the classroom is to model these positive attitudes.
Students tend to perceive students with special needs as valued and equal members of the classroom when teachers do some of the following: recognize students’ achievements in meaningful ways, communicate that teasing and bullying are unacceptable and will not be tolerated, call on all students to participate in ways that are meaningful to them, and adapt the program to allow every student to participate and learn” (Choate, 2010). This is very important to make sure that each individual student who is there to learn is able to achieve the best education they possibly can while they are in a teacher’s classroom.
Every student is going to be different. Just because one student understands what is being taught doesn’t mean everyone does. It doesn’t mean that you need to adapt the entire program or syllabus for your class, but it could be changed in the way you are teaching a specific subject for certain students so they may grasp the understanding of what you are teaching. This goes for students who have disabilities as well as the “average” student. All of us are different.
It is important not to be rude or inconsiderate; the same for students, if you have to discuss the matter in a different way or one student needs more help than others in grasping the concepts that are being taught. In turn, the teacher can explain or make the student understand that each student has a different way of learning and understanding so sometimes students need a different way to learn. There are different types of learning and learners, especially at a young age children are curious and want to understand what is going on around them so if they don’t understand someone or something they become cautious.
When this happens, typically the bullying or teasing arises. Students with disabilities are like us, they sometimes just have problems grasping social and educational skills, because everyone in one aspect or another has a “disability” in some way. “It is human nature to be curious about, and cautious of those who are different, providing students with information can satisfy their curiosity. There are many ways of which to do so which can be reading books, facilitating class discussions, showing videos and/or inviting guest speakers such as the parents to talk to the class. Even the students who have a disability may be able to create their own presentation about their strengths and weaknesses to share with their peers in order to help familiarize these students with who they are and what they can do. “… but decisions about the amount and type of information to present should be made in consultation with both the parents and the student and should only be comprehensive enough to address pertinent questions and to dispel misconceptions but limited enough to respect ones’ privacy” (Boon & Spencer, 2010).
Personally, the biggest misconception that mainstream students and their parents have is they think that their students are “at risk” with interacting with special needs children. This is from a lack of understanding the subject. We, as human beings, are afraid of what we do not know. This is a valid fear if they don’t know. Sometimes certain students lack in self-control and act out when they don’t understand. It is easier to discipline a student that does not have a disability versus one with a disability because sometimes it’s harder to get a student with disabilities back on track, or to calm down, rather than average students.
This behavioral problem may be due to their disability; you may not be able to keep them focused or react in a positive way to your disciplinary action that may work with traditional students because sped students may not understand these actions. This is where the inclusion debate goes back to deciding if special needs students are suitable to be in mainstream classrooms and at what functionality levels are acceptable to be mainstreamed and benefit from it. As an example, say that a student named Jacob is has a disability.
Jacob tends to act out when disciplinary actions are taken and under evaluation Jacob is deemed not suitable for inclusion because of his behavioral outbreaks and low functioning mentality. However, Jacob is deemed suitable for inclusion in certain school subjects such as physical education, art, and music courses. Mainstreaming is not always a full class load like the average student, but in certain subjects in whom the student excels at it is appropriate for inclusion.
The only way that inclusion will work is if all parties involved from the school district personnel to the parents maintain a positive mindset and seek all available assistance to ensure that every student involved is provided the best education he/she can acquire. It is important to promote positive peer interactions. This can either promote or demote the student who has disabilities’ social skills. “A concerted effort must be made to help students with disabilities refine their social skills and to provide peers with the skills and knowledge they need to interact successfully with disabled classmates” (Boon & Spencer, 2010). Students need opportunity that promote positive interactions. This is where adult assistance should be deliberately faded to allow students to interact as naturally as possible.
Peers are often discouraged from talking to a student who is required to work with a teacher’s assistant; because of that, students with disabilities are isolated if they spend considerable time working with adults” (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2010). This makes sense because students who see a lot of adult-interaction tend to be known as “teacher’s pets. Students believe that that student is better than them or they don’t want to interact with them because they’re too close to the teacher and if they say or do something wrong that student may “tell on them” and they would get in trouble. This causes the students to become scared of the student who has more interaction with the instructors than with the other students. This is common of any student whether they have disabilities or not. “Refining the social skills of sped students should be one of the primary and ongoing educational goals for all of which involved in the education of that student.
Different teaching approaches and interventions are required by different students and different situations. In some cases, it may be necessary to teach critical social skills during pull-out-time or by creating a small grouping of students. Social scripts and stories can also be developed to help students negotiate their way through certain social situations” (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2010). Teachers who are teaching students with disabilities’ main goal, besides educating them, are to become socially acclimated with society and vice versa.
It’s important that both the disabled and average individuals understand each other and are able to be sociable in order to prevent conflict from arising, not only in the classroom but in the everyday world outside of school. Once these students leave the school setting they still have to live their life in society some way. “Teaching staff can also provide students with social coaching while interactions are occurring or by debriefing with students after interactions” (Boon & Spencer, 2010).
Basically what this means is while an instructor is watching the student interact with their peers you may notice they are doing something either socially unacceptable or acceptable in a positive way. You can either address the situation depending on the nature while it is occurring or address the situation in a private manner after the situation has ended. Also, explain to the student what they did during that situation and why it was either good or bad. If it is a negative situation it is typically better to address that situation in private to avoid embarrassment and causing a scene in front of their peers.
If it is a positive situation, it may be better for them socially, to recognize them in front of their peers. Each situation may be different depending on the nature of the situation, if the situation is extremely inappropriate it needs to be addressed right then and there so it does not become a safety issue for other students. Again, it is different for each situation and each student. Many people don’t know a lot about the Inclusion Debate. Basically it is that of integrating special needs students in with the average student.
Now whether that is a full-time class load or just the class that the sped students excel in is up to the instructor so that the student may reach their highest potential. It is important to mainstream these students for the social environment so that they may pick up on social cues and also so that they may be able to enhance their learning and understanding of the world around them. It is important that the school, the instructors and the parents are an important part of the students who have disabilities’ lives and interact with the students in a positive manner.
Also, it is important that students who are around the students who have special needs understand that these individuals may be different but they are still people and just like you and I even though they may not learn like you and I do. All in all it is important to learn more about the student and their needs and make it acceptable to the instructors, parents and classmates in a positive manner to accept this individual into everyone’s academic lives and help them, not hinder their learning.
In my opinion the Inclusion Debate is an important one, and with more teaching and understanding on the subject, should be integrated into every school in some positive way, shape or form.
Edmunds, A. L. , & Macmillan, R. B. , (Eds. ). (2010). Leadership for Inclusion. Boston: SensePublishers. This book outlines the leadership that is necessary for inclusion in classroom settings. Also, it outlines what is expected of classmate interaction as well as exemplary parental interaction paired with instructor inclusion. Pierangelo, R. , & Giuliani, G. (2010). Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. The book outlines a step-by-step guide for educators who are considering or who do incorporate Inclusion in their classroom settings. Boon, R. T. , PhD. ,, & Spencer, V. G. , PhD. (2010). Best practices for the Inclusive Classroom: Scientifically based Strategies for Success. USA: Prufrock Press Inc. This text looks at field-tested strategies that instructors of inclusive classrooms need to implement to successfully teach all of the learners in their classroom. Choate, J. S. (2010). Successful Inclusive Teaching: Proven Ways to Detect and Correct Special Needs. USA: Pearson Education: At School.
This text provides a practical guide for instructors’ ideas to adapt instruction for students in their classes based on current research findings and fresh insights from outstanding instructors. WEAC. (2010, January 1). Special Education Inclusion. Wisconsin Education Association Council. Retrieved from http:///www. weac. org/Issues_Advocacy/Resource_Pages_On_Issues_One/ Special Education/special_education_inclusion. aspx WEAC represents 98,000. K-12 public school teachers and education support professionals, faculty and support staff who support the special education inclusion in Wisconsin and other educational settings.