According to the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA), students should be educated in the least restrictive environment with non-disabled children whenever appropriate (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). Education opens horizons, extends freedom, and creates opportunities. Inclusion is a service delivery option for educators to meet the needs of both disabled and non-disabled children within the same age group in the same classroom. With inclusion, no “dual citizenship” for the child with disabilities exists. Instead, a true membership to one class in which belonging, acceptance and growth occur.
Social acceptance is not something that should be earned yet many schools still segregate based on disability leaving the disabled children often isolated and unskilled socially to interact and advocate for themselves. Inclusion does not segregate based on disability and allows all children opportunities to interact with each other and the environment. When disabled children are members of age-appropriate general education classrooms they are seen by their non-disabled peers as being part of their class and belonging. In return all children learn social skills, problem solving, self-advocacy and help each other learn academically. The inclusive membership provides an early awareness for all children about their environment, the people who make up their environment and how to help each other be successful. This new way of educating children requires the appropriate planning, training, service delivery and best practices by the schools in order to be successful.
Service Delivery of inclusive education is something that needs support at the Board of Education and Superintendent’s Office (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). This requires a shift in culture within the schools at the district or state level in some cases. The schools need to design the teacher to student ratio based on the special education layouts from the previous service delivery. Additionally, making sure paraprofessional support at the level appropriate according to the population of the inclusive class exists. When a paraprofessional is working in the inclusive classroom, there should always be a certified, licensed employee, like a special educator present to supervise and assist when needed (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). Communication and support is key to keeping the inclusive classroom successful. This holds true when planning for inclusion as the service delivery for a student with disabilities.
Planning for inclusion involves parents, special and general educators, in some cases the student, the student’s friends and related service staff working with the student. Some schools will use various charting and modeling efforts when planning for a student’s inclusion options (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). The special and general educator will work on ensuring the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives are being met. These teachers will collaborate to ensure the student is participating as a member of the class. They will work on developing the instructional strategies for the student to allow the student to participate yet still be focused only on the IEP goals and objectives. The student with an IEP within inclusion does not need to be on the same academic level as their peers. However, to keep membership equal, the teachers need to modify and adapt instruction and content to allow the student with the IEP ample opportunities to participate and be successful.
Inclusion is an option for service delivery when educating children with disabilities. This includes children seen as gifted and those children who are gifted with learning disabilities. This type of service delivery can meet the needs of the whole child not just the academics. However, inclusion will be successful only if the school, district and state in some cases, support this method of delivering services to the student with disabilities. In supporting this type of service delivery extensive training, collaboration and communication will need to occur on an ongoing basis.
At Enhanced Learning Skills for Kids, we value each child's individualized strengths and weaknesses yet never allow the child to be anything less than equal to their peers. To us, if your child has memory, visual or auditory processing, logic, attention, general processing speed, or reading issues, your child is seen as whole and full of potential. Its our job to help your child reach and release that potential. Our programs help students to become stronger learners. They are able to participate in the learning process and become equal to their non-disabled peers. I want to help you and your child get started down the path to being a successful learner.
Halvorsen, A. T., & Neary, T. (2005). Building inclusive tools and strategies for success. Massachusetts: Allyn and Baconby