Doyle ( 2003) states that the educator has an obligation to identify and provide adequate attention to those with special needs and at the same time not deal with these children in a prejudicial way.
Doyle uses the example of students who may have autism, which is a disorder related to special learning need. In order to reduce the possibility of any bias and prejudice the following steps are advised, among others.
It is of the utmost importance to identify and support students in the autism spectrum and students with other special learning needs as early as possible. Do not allow children who may have special needs to go from one grade to another without a professional team assessing the student for eligibility for services and supports. "Waiting" is NOT an effective, educational practice. Although the process of referral can be cumbersome, it is well worth it when it identifies needs that can be met during the educational life of the child. (Doyle, 2003)
The above is a good example of the attention that the teacher should provide to the special need student. It also stresses the importance of teacher's perceptions and the way that the teacher can be instrumental in providing a more equable and unprejudiced learning environment for the special need student.
The problem of unfair or prejudiced treatment of the disadvantaged and special needs student is one that requires the sensitivity and responsible perception of both the teacher and the educational community in order to remedy this cultural inequality. That a serious situation exists in terms of cultural inequalities is evidenced by the following comment on ableism. "Like racism and sexism, ableism is embedded within our society at a root level and combating it requires ongoing education about how a person's uniqueness can counteract cultural myths about people with disabilities" ( Fierros, 2006). An attitude that is not acceptable and which requires urgent attention is the view that is still prevalent in sectors of contemporary society that persons with disabilities are "…tolerated but not allowed to participate fully in society"( Obiakor, 2010, p. 112).
Feirros asks the cardinal question with regard to this subject: "The question, of course, is how to do that -- how to combat fear and ignorance about perceived differences?" ( Fierros, 2006). As referred to in the introduction to this paper, the reduction of cultural inequality requires in the first instance an understanding of the reality of diversity and difference and its acceptance. A large part of the answer to the question put forward by Fierros lies in the attitudes and perceptions of the teacher in the classroom and the extent to which he or she can redress and possibly eradicate cultural inequalities among special need students.
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