Inclusion

     Inclusion is a very controversial idea because it relates to educational and
social values, as well as our sense of individual worth. Inclusion is the
assignment of students with disabilities to regular classrooms in neighborhood
schools for the entire school day. These children participate in all the regular
school activities. It involves bringing the support services to the child rather
than moving the child to the services, and requires only that the child will
benefit from being in the class rather than having to keep up with the other
students. Physical accommodations, sufficient personnel, staff development and
technical assistance, and technical collaboration are all brought into the
classroom to assist the special needs child in a regular classroom. Those who
are for inclusion claim that segregated programs are detrimental to students and
do not meet the original goals for special education. Recent meta-analyses show
a small to moderate beneficial effect of inclusion education on the academic and
social outcome of special needs children. Those who support inclusion believe
that the child always should begin in the regular environment and only be
removed only when appropriate services cannot be provided in the regular
classroom. Another study assessing the effectiveness of inclusion was done at

John Hopkins University. In a school-wide restructuring program called, Success
for All, student achievement was measured and several positive changes were
noticed: a reduced fear of human differences accompanied by increases comfort
and awareness, growth in social cognition, improvement in self- concept of
non-disabled students, development of personal principles and ability to assume
an advocacy role toward their peers and friends with disabilities, and warm and
caring friendships. However, for inclusion to be successful, adequate
supplementary aids and support services must be present. The teacher needs to
prepare students to be accepting of the special needs students by being honest
about the nature of the child’s disability and/or behavior difficulty.

Although inclusion seems like a great idea that should be of some form of
benefit for all involved, if not handled properly it can become a very stressful
situation. As an elementary school student, I remember being in my classroom
about mid-semester and the teacher announcing that we would be having and
additional student joining us. She went on to explain that this particular boy
had had difficulty in his previous school due to behavioral problems but that
she was going to try to work with him. She asked that if he ever acted out
towards us, that we not retaliate but instead go to her or the principle and
tell them. She also asked that we be friendly and not treat him indifferently
because of his behavioral problem, but to instead understand that he could not
help but be this way. Although the teacher probably felt that by arming us with
this knowledge we would be able to handle encounters with this boy better, we
were in no way prepared to deal with the disruptive and sometimes abusive nature
of this boy. The rest of that school year was very hard for all of us. The boy
had no ability to concentrate, sit still or be quiet. The teacher would try to
teach the lesson over his outbursts but needless to say, not much was learned
for the rest of the year. I believe that inclusion is a good idea when all the
proper facilities, services, aids and proper disciplinary strategies are
present. However, if the teacher/classroom/school, are not well equipped to
handle inclusion, it can become a very stressful hardship for all involved. The
regular students will become distracted by the constant disruptions, they can
even resort to acting out themselves because they are seeing the inclusion
student is not being disciplined. The teacher can become frustrated with the
chaos in his/her classroom and feel unable to regain control or not able to
effectively teach the class with constant disruptions occurring. In my opinion,
the best way to deal with children with behavioral problems or learning
disabilities is early intervention. The greatest debate over inclusion versus
special education for children with these kind of problems is that their
academic performance is below those of their agemates. However, many of these
students could have succeeded in school in the first place if they had had
effective prevention and early intervention programs. There is strong evidence
that a substantial portion of students who are now in the special education
system could have been kept out if they had had effective early intervention.

Studies of high quality early childhood programs such as the Perry Preschool,
the Abecedarian Project, and the Milwaukee Project all showed substantial
reductions in special education placements for students with learning
disabilities and mild mental retardation. The program, Success for All, which
combines effective early childhood programs, curriculum reform, and one-to-one
tutoring, has reduced special education placement by more than half. These
findings suggest that special-education services could be greatly reduced if
prevention and early intervention programs were implemented. Ultimately, the key
to the child’s success lay in the hands of the educators. It is their duty to
provide proper assistance and instruction for these children in order for full
inclusion to be successful.