Inclusion of a child with disabilities into a general education class
Inclusion is a right that should be provided to all children. Parents fight for access to quality education to their children even though they have disabilities. This fight has contributed to the provision of equal access to quality education opportunities and equal opportunities Roach & Elliott, 2006.
The passage of the PL 94-142 lessened the fight that parents had to fight for general education. PL 94-142 made a call for education of those children who have special needs in an LRE (least restrictive environment) Terman, Larner, Stevenson, & Behrman, 1996.
What constitutes the LRE has led to a huge debate on how to best include those children who have disabilities into the regular education system.
Additionally, the amendments that were made to IDEA of 1996 put further emphasis on inclusion of disabled children in the public schools. Inclusion of disabled children is important in making them feel valued and loved in the society. It also empowers them to know that disability does not meant inability for them.
When decisions on placements of students are made, districts in general and individual schools often overlook the strengths possessed by the children and they fail to explore the supports that are needed for the disabled student to succeed when they are placed in a regular class. Instead, they end up looking at the general ability or disability level and recommend placement on solely that disability level of the child Plata, Trusty, & Glasgow, 2005.
This makes the disabled students to be placed in a very restrictive self-contained class. The second option is always easier for the teachers and school administrators since it does not need them to make any adjustments or modifications that enable the disabled children to survive in the institution.
Inclusion and mainstreaming
There is a confusion that ensues in many people between the terms mainstreaming and inclusion. Mainstreaming refers to the placement of children who are disabled in a general education class in a situation where it meets the traditional academic demands with minimal support or for the purpose of socialization. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the placement of children with disabilities in general education class for as long as they are able to make progress towards achieving their IEP (Individual Education Plans) goals Norwich, 2002.
This is regardless of the goals of other children in the class.
Inclusion does not mean that the child will not get the services that they need in the general education class. Therefore, the inclusion services that are conducted should follow the child. Many successful models of collaborative consultative services and co-teaching exist in order to provide quality education that is inclusive for all children. There should also be service personnel to help the children by providing the services in the general education class which they need in order to promote successful inclusion. Examples of these service personnel could be occupational therapists, speech clinicians and language clinicians. As a result of these language skills are important in all daily activities that are conducted in the class. It makes more sense to have language instruction in the natural class environment rather than to provide these special services in isolation for the disabled children such as having isolated speech rooms or language therapy rooms. It also eliminates the need for generalization of the skills that are adopted or acquired in the therapy situation of the classroom Lyon, 1996()
Characteristics of inclusion
All students are educated in a caring classroom environment where there is no distinction made between the children who are disabled and those who are not. The strengths that the students bring to the learning environment are appreciated. This is done by applying the multiple intelligences theory to the classroom environment. The deficit model or more specifically the medical model still prevails in classes that are self-contained. The deficit model presents a special focus on what is wrong or missing in the child and what the educators need to do in order to fixt the situation. The strengths model focuses on the capabilities of the child and the factors that are outside the child Hursh, 2007.
A good example is the teacher teaching the lessons in a way that all the students to understand the concept in depth.
Inclusion involves accommodations, modifications and strategies. Accommodations are defined as the services which support or enable a student to have full access to the subject matter and instructions being taught. They are changes to the instructional methods used to teach and not alterations of content or expectations. They include audio books, additional time for tests and reduction in extraneous noise. Modifications on the other hand are adjustments to the performance expectations of the students with disabilities or instructional content from what is taught to students studying in the general education system Hauser-Cram et al., 2001.
Examples include reduced assignments, different expectations of what the student should achieve and learning the same information on a different level.
The debate surrounding inclusion
Students with learning disabilities can be categorized as being either physically, behaviorally or emotionally disabled. There is a need to have long-term sustainable intervention strategies which address the problems facing the children with these disabilities. Learning disabilities cannot arise as a result of other disablements such as behavioral, emotional or physical disablement. Learning disability comes as a result of a discrepancy between the achievement of the student and their intellectual ability. This discrepancy could be in seven distinct areas. The first is listening, expression, writing, mathematical computation, reasoning, reading skills and reading comprehension. There are, however, no clear determinants of whether the student is just disabled or is also learning disabled. However, inclusion caters for both the disabled children and the learning disabled Cook, 2004()
In order for an inclusion plan to be complete, first it must have an educational program that suits the special needs of the child. Secondly, the placement of the student must be as close as to their age as is possible Conyers, Reynolds, & Ou, 2003.
However, inclusion does not always meet the desired intention of the least restrictive environment rules Cawthon, 2007()
Case of a child with hearing impairment
For a child with hearing impairment, they need certain things to be done in order for thhhem to be included in the general education system. First is the use of hearing aids. This is an example of an accommodation since it does not alter the content or learning expectations. Additionally, it does not change the instructional method. However, since it helps the child to fully understand and have access to the subject matter being taught, it is an inclusion and more specifically an accommodation.
Other accommodations include less whole-class instruction and more of one-on-one concentration between the teacher and the child. The student should also be involved in an active way in the classroom activities and not just left alone to sit and listen. The classroom environment should also have a high emphasis on higher-order thinking which is learning a field's key concepts and principles. It also involves the students being given more choices to handle such as being able to choose team partners, books, etc. Accommodation also involves giving attention to the cognitive style of each individual student in order to model a good system where the students become reliant on the education system Berry, 2006()
In terms of modifications, depending on the nature of the hearing disability of the child, the child can be allowed to present less homework as a result of the extra strain that the student has to put in order to understand what is happening in the classroom activities. The student can also be allowed more time to complete their assignments. There will also be fewer expectations from the student with the hearing disability from the other abled students.
Inclusion is a general right for all students in the world. It covers both those who are physically, emotionally and behaviorally disabled. It also covers those who are learning disabled. There is a difference between the learning disabled students and those who are just disabled. However, inclusion does take into attention all these. For a student who has hearing impairment, there are those accommodations and modifications that can be done to make sure they are able to enable them to learn in a general education class. These accommodations include use of hearing aids and modifications include giving them fewer assignments and a longer duration to complete it. With these simple inclusions, children with disabilities can also be able to learn in the normal classroom environment instead of learning in seclusion.
Berry, R.A.W. (2006). Inclusion, Power, and Community: Teachers and Students Interpret the Language of Community in an Inclusion Classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 489-529.
Cawthon, S.W. (2007). Hidden Benefits and Unintended Consequences of 'No Child Left Behind' Policies for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. American Educational Research Journal, 44(3), 460-492.…