The inclusion of autistic children raises some important questions concerning the effects of inclusion, not only on the autistic child, but also on the entire classroom. Children with autistic spectrum disorders ranging from Kanners syndrome to Ausbergers Syndrome sometimes find external stimulation to be excruciating. We must then question the logic of placing them in an environment where their bodies must constantly result to the defensive behaviors, so characteristic in autistic children. We must question whether treating them like everyone else will make them healthy, happy adults, or will they have sacrificed a special education tailored to their needs in order to satisfy social trends of today? Would inclusion be beneficial to the mildly effected? What are the effects of inclusion on the children in the classroom without special needs? Another important question is the measurement of our progress. Do we use improvement in grades, or increased social behaviors as a measure? How has inclusion changed the role of the classroom teacher? What teaching strategies are used in promoting the success of Autistic children in an inclusive primary setting? The only clear thread in all of this, is that inclusion has raised more questions than it answered, especially where autistic children are concerned.
This inquiry will be used to help improve the learning environment into one, in which a wide range of children can learn together. This inquiry is unique in that it not only combines the perspectives of parents, and teachers, without scholarly intervention, it also supports its findings with life experiences that have solidified their beliefs. This inquiry will examine whether mainstream school sufficiently meets the needs of Autistic children and their families. It will explore the factors that hinder successful inclusion of Autistic children. Most importantly, it will describe that factors, as related by parents and teachers, that aid in developing a successful inclusion program for Autistic children.
This inquiry will show that an inclusive setting may be beneficial to a child with mild or moderate Autism, with modifications to the normal classroom. The children will need to be judged by a different set of criteria than the other children. The children will need to have a quiet place to "unwind." Teachers will have to make many modifications to their methods of teaching to accommodate Autistic children. The study will find that the inclusion of special needs children will have a positive effect on the social tolerance of the general population. The inquiry will show that the inclusion of Autistic children in the mainstream classroom does create some difficulties, both for children with and without special needs, but that with a few minor modifications, these difficulties can be overcome.
This inquiry will assess the effectiveness of the inclusion of Autistic children in the normal classroom setting. It will be conducted using data collected from interviews with school children. Questionnaires will focus on educational practices, interventions, and experiences common among inclusive school settings in Britain. The questionnaires will be statistically analyzed for trends. From these trends general recommendations to improve the inclusive school setting for Autistic will be drawn. Contributions from this inquiry will add to the knowledge base of what constitutes successful schooling for all. Educators, parents and students will be able to use this information to develop a program which more fully and effectively incorporates the process of inclusion.
The results of this study will reveal that children do not learn until they feel safe and loved. The current school system defines and enlarges the curriculum each year, this leaves Autistic children less emotionally prepared each year to take on new challenges. The inclusive setting must include several elements to successfully include Autistic children. The children must not be evaluated by the standards expected of other children. They must have an individual program developed, tailored to their specific needs.
This inquiry is based on information on the effective learning strategies presented by the government. It is also based on the National Curriculum and supported by research on effective teaching. This inquiry will further the understanding of specific conditions, events, and individuals who effectively educate Autistic children in an inclusive setting. It will build upon past research and strategies for integrating children with or without special needs. It will do this by categorizing, analyzing, and matching emergent themes from questionnaires of three distinct groups:
1. Parents of Autistic children
2. Parents of children without Autism
3. Teachers without credentials in special education (class teachers)
This inquiry is unique in that it uses the actual life experiences of the participants without scholarly intervention. In this way, it will be practical to apply in the inclusive setting. This inquiry attempts to face the challenges presented to the teacher, in an effort to teach for the success of all children in their classroom.
"Inclusion and Autism: Is it working?" is a report released by the National Autistic Society (UK). This article examines 1,000 examples of Autistics included in education and adult life. This study was conducted in a similar manner to this inquiry. A questionnaire was mailed to 2,049 members of the National Autistic Society. Over 1,100 were returned and only the first 1,000 were used for analysis. (NAS 5). Half of the respondents analysed were from a mainstream environment and half were from a specialised environment. According to the results of this study, a positive picture emerges in early education and a more negative one in later years. 73% of parents surveyed were happy with the education that their child received (NAS 6). Only 12% of the parents with children in a mainstream setting, which was unsupported, were satisfied. This indicates that a certain degree of training is necessary for success (NAS 7).This study was able to identify several key indicators in schools with low satisfaction by parents. The parents feel that the teachers do not have sufficient training in the field of autism (NAS 8). Parents need to feel as if they have a certain degree of control in their child's education (NAS 8). Social skills are neglected and an emphasis is placed on academics (NAS 9). This study also examined adults who had transitioned into the work environment, and found that satisfaction results were significantly lower. This study attempted to extrapolate information about the inclusive school environment in retrospect by questioning people over twenty about their school days. I do not feel that that this is relevant information, as the inclusive environment was still in its infancy and the learning situation was much different than it is today.
The National Association for Special Needs (NASEN) is in process of conducting a study to assess the level of support offered to local LEAs . It was conducted by way of a survey to the individual LEAs. Preliminary findings suggest that the [ LEAs are continuing to retain centrally a range of SEN Support Services. However, the nature of teams and the numbers and type of support staff vary significantly, even across LEAs of similar character and size. (NASEN, website)]. The level of support varied in the NAS report as well, and did have an impact on the parent's overall satisfaction with the LEA. It is obvious that in some areas, more support is needed to make inclusion a success.
Hummersknott School -- S.E.N.- Effective Inclusion is a report found on the DfEE website. It is a case study of what is reported to be a successful inclusion program. The reasons for this success are consistent with the findings of "Inclusion: is it working?" The Lea relies heavily on IEPs, a staff of professionals have been hired to support the regular staff. The program is designed to meet the individual student's needs. This report supports the idea that inclusion has been beneficial to the general school population in accepting differences among people. The report still did not find an accurate method for measuring success. In addition, the program was reported to be a success, yet there was no evidence to support these claims.
In the Article by the National Curriculum, Inclusion: providing effective learning opportunities for all pupils, the issue of fair testing and assessment are addressed. It does provide for the individual assessment of special needs children based on their abilities. There is still the issue of testing according to the National Curriculum.
Thomas in Inclusive Schools for Inclusive Society believes that the effect of inclusion is that it will bring down the level of education for the entire school system. This is not supported by a formal study, although he is considered to be an expert in the field.
In a review of a number of cases, one fact becomes clear. There is not enough research conducted to draw solid conclusions about the effects of inclusion. Of the studies reviewed, and many others, not listed here, it seems that everyone has their opinion and that these opinions, for the most part, are based on conjecture. It is this need for solid research that I hope to fill…