What are your thoughts on inclusion of children with special needs in school?

Krista - posted on 03/13/2011 ( 36 moms have responded )

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Do you think that all children have the right to be educated along with their peers, regardless of their disability? Should children with special needs be educated in a separate school that can better meet their needs? Does the presence of special needs children negatively affect the learning of other children or does it help to breed tolerance and acceptance?

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Sharon - posted on 03/14/2011

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It depends on the special needs. Are they wheelchair bound but their mental capacity is normal?

Do they have extreme tourettes?

Are they sitting there hooting and shitting on themselves and occasionally attempting to stab their classmates with pencils?

IT DEPENDS. nothing is black and white.

We had a special ed class in highschool. These kids were EXTREME. their parents wanted them in the mainstream classes. UM HOW? When the 200lb retarded chick with the period stain on the back of her jeans gets up to dance around the english lit class? How the fuck were we supposed to pay attention? When the kid who screamed incoherrently and randomly but happily, was in your algebra class, how the fuck were you supposed to pay attention?

on the other hand there was a kid who was on par stephen hawking. He sat limply in his wheelchair, drooling occasionally, he had a service dog who was supposed to alert to his seizures which could be silent and go unnoticed and he had a helper person his parents hired who put books in front of him, turned pages, etc. I NEVER saw this kid do a lick of work and i don't recall seeing him communicate. he's not even in our yearbook. But we all watched out for him, we cared about him.

Another kid, had something wrong with his spinal fluid drainage. it lead to a dangerously swollen head, infections etc. He was a nice kid, prone to seizures, which were disrupting, but so infrequent as to hardly be counted.

The last two were perfectly fine to include in a mainstream class. the previous two were not.

Shoving your retarded, behaviourally challenged child into a "normal" mainstream class will not make your child "normal". give it up.

Erin - posted on 03/13/2011

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It really depends on how much support that particular child needs. If it can be provided in a mainstream class, I have no problem with that. If a special needs child has adequate support (teacher's aide etc) it shouldn't detract from the teacher's ability to conduct lessons for the rest of the students.

We actually had a separate special ed class at my high school, which is also a reasonable solution as then the special needs kids are guaranteed to have classes tailored to their abilities, while also having the opportunity to mix with their peers at lunchtime. But throwing a special needs child into a mainstream class with no help or extra resources is clearly a bad idea, for everyone involved.

Tracey - posted on 03/14/2011

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Yes they should have the right to be included but that does not mean it is in their best interests, the teacher's best interests or those of the other pupils.

My son could not cope in a mainstream school and we are lucky that he goes to a special autism school.

From a teaching assistant point of view in a wonderful make believe world where every special needs child had their own assistant then it would be great, but in the real world school budgets can't cope with extra staff, there is no extra training available and we are left to get on with it. Is it fair to the other 29 children in a class if the one teaching assistant spends half her time with 1 child? Is it fair to the other 29 children if they are scared of 1 child who will hurt them if they somehow upset him? Is it fair to that 1 child who can end up friendless, alone and struggling in class emotionally and educationally because no-one understands their condition?

Lesa - posted on 03/15/2012

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My province is all inclusive but not all students with disabilities are allotted an EA. I had a 3/4 classroom with 20 students. I had 2 children on the spectrum, 2ADD, 2ADHD, one with severe hemophilia and 6 on SEP's and only one EA. It depends on the disability. This was a challenging class and we did manage to learn the curriculum but it really burned me out. I am now a SAHM because of the lack of support we get as teachers. I am not saying we shouldn't be all inclusive but we do need more support. All I wanted was the best for those kids butat times I felt like a failure because I had so many issues to overcome before I could get any actual teaching done.

Iridescent - posted on 03/13/2011

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Considering the fact that 1:5 children has a rare disorder at birth, and even more have more common disorders (which means 2:5+ children at least have some type of disorder, period), putting special needs children into their own school becomes ridiculous. I am all for inclusion.

For the healthy child:
It teaches compassion, empathy, and understanding
It gives them some understanding of differences in people
It prevents prejudice, which the segregation of children with special needs has contributed to terribly

For the special needs child:
It teaches acceptance
It increases the quality of life
It gives the opportunity for the child to reach goals that would not have been met in a special needs class, because nobody would think them capable

Regardless of setting, federal law in the US states their needs must be met. For my children this is done with an IEP for 3, and an IHP rider with the IEP for 1. For children that are not also developmentally delayed, an IHP can be put into place independently, or a 504 Plan can be started.

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I'm posting before reading any other replies.



In our area, there are no special needs classes at the elementary, middle or high school. There are places where SEVERELY disabled children (and adults) can go. I like that my son attends school with "average" children and with children who have special needs, some worse than others. Some of the kids, my son included, are considered "special needs" but only for minor issues like speech delays. I like that he is learning about the differences in people and I like that they don't just take the "special" kids and put them in their own class, like they did when I was in school. I remember when I was in school, the kids who were in the Special Ed class always got made fun of. Now, at least here in this town, you can't tell the special needs kids from the rest and to me, that's nothing but progress and I like it :)

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 03/15/2012

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I think it is wonderful that here in Canada all children are integrated together, if the parents want their child in a public school. We have teacher's aids and from the ones I have seen and been around they are absolutely wonderful.



However, not always is it a one on one scenario. If there are more than one child in the class with a disability, that aid must work with each of them. In most cases, if it is a serious disability at times it is a one on one experience. The Government will fund a private aid for these children. Otherwise the school brings so many in per year to help with the disabled children that don't require a constant hand.



I think it promotes not only awareness for those children without a disability but also compassion. It also promotes workmanship between both types of children. My daughter with severe ADHD had problems here and there, a teacher's aid was always available for her. There have always been multiple children in her classes that require the aid's help.



For those children that are severely impaired, I think it is a parents choice of weighing the benefits and cons. Some children may do better in a special needs school, where there are much more resources, trained staff and correct curriculum for each of them. Although, if the parent feels they would do fine in a public schooling system, then absolutely, they should be more than welcome. They should receive all resources available to them.



When I was in school we had a few children that were severly impaired. One was in a wheel chair, he could not feed himself, use the washroom, talk, or wipe his face. He was paralyzed. However, we all loved him! We talked with him all the time, even though he could not talk back. He could smile though. We knew when he was happy and having fun. It made us feel good to be able to make him smile.



eta: I grew up and went to school in AB but that was 18+ years ago I was in school (lived there 23 years), things have more than likely changed since then. My daughter goes to school in NS (past 8 years) and I find them quite good here...

Melodie - posted on 03/15/2012

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I am also a CNA and I work with a special needs child who is 7 years old. I have been caring for him for 3 years now at his home on a daily basis. His parents have chosen to place him in a main stream school setting this year.. He attends class only 3 days a week and I am able to be there with him all day to attend to his needs. He has been in both special needs classes last year and now in the regular class environment and he is thriving very well this year in him normal class setting!! I can't begin to tell you how it makes me feel when I see him accomplish tasks that the rest of the students are also doing!!! THe look of pride on HIS face is pricless!!! Everyday he brings tears to my eyes with each new achievment he reachs. I can only say that it has been a BLESSING for him! Each parent has to make thrie own decision. Good Luck!

Krista - posted on 03/15/2011

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That's a good point, Tracey; the kids with behaviour problems definitely impact the learning of the rest of the class. Our division has a program called Structured Success for the children with extreme behaviours, or for children who cannot cope in a regular classroom. It's a very rigorous application process, that usually starts in grade one and lasts all year, with successful applicants joining the program in grade 2. They are in a regular elementary school, but completely segregated from the rest of the school (different bus, different recess and lunch times, own classroom). Everything is structured and routine and every behaviour, good and bad, is recorded and translates into points that can be used to buy things from the classroom "store." Daily behaviour records are sent home and the students must earn their integration back into the regular classes.

I've seen this program work wonders for some students, and for others, they end of getting reintegrated without actually "graduating" from the program because they were progressing as was expected.

I've gone through the application process 3 times and had all 3 students accepted. One moved away, one had some success but was released early and is doing great in grade 4 now, and one is in his first year there and is doing so much better than in the regular classroom.

Vegemite - posted on 03/15/2011

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My high school had special needs students but there was always devision between students who had disabilities and those who didn't. Probably because we weren't in the same classes and the def kids would come up to us and scream in our faces as loudly as they could, they would also follow you down the street in their cars with music on full blast. Being young we retaliated by teasing them.

Jenn - posted on 03/15/2011

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I am all for inclusion. My son has 2 kids in his kindergarten class with special needs, and they both have someone who give them the extra help that they need. I was able to visit the class one day to get my son's first report card and to view how he interacts in the classroom, and the kids with special needs were just as much a part of the classroom activities as all the other kids, there were no disruptions, and I think it helps to take away the stigma or fear or questions that may otherwise arise from segregating them.

Tracey - posted on 03/15/2011

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I know schools where 70% of children are labeled special needs. Why? Because it is used as an excuse for low exam results and to try and get extra funding.
I would also suggest that kids with no special needs but bad and disruptive behaviour have a much greater impact on class learning.

Iridescent - posted on 03/14/2011

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Yes, most schools have a reduction of aide goal. Because it eats the most money, yet it's money specifically allotted for by the federal government, provided for with grants if the paperwork is filed, as well as reimbursed by the child's insurance and/or waiver programs if they have those sources available; if they do not, it is reimbursed by the federal government. But they are allowed to claim, as an example, 7 hours for Joe at school, 7 hours for Anna, and 7 hours for George...21 hours, right? No, it's 1 aide for all 3. They get reimbursed for all 3. But it's still ONE aide. So the school is making a profit on each one they cut.

Iridescent - posted on 03/14/2011

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Jodi, that's exactly what's happening, and that is why those that have private schools available choose to send their kids to them if they can. Also, many families are now home schooling their disabled children, but in many of those cases the school is actually reporting the parents to CPS for various things related to it, all because when the child is home schooled the school does not get the many thousands of dollars they would if the child were at the school...yet at the school, many of the children are bullied and hurt and the school refuses to take responsibility. Sometimes it feels as though you can't win. I am fortunate that I know that it's a federal law requiring my children to be safe, to have the aide/nurse if their cares are that high, to have the money intended for them spent on them... Most parents do not know this, especially those from the low income communities, and they just accept that there is nothing they can do. But there is! It's called a Child Advocate. It's available to every single special needs child in the US.

Krista - posted on 03/14/2011

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At our school there is funding for special needs students who have been evaluated and coded as severe enough to qualify, but our province is definitely trying to get rid of as many educational assistants as possible (I believe their goal is to decrease the EA's by 75% in the next few years). Beginning this year, our school division is not allowing any EAs to work over 6 hours, and they no longer get paid for any extra time they put in. This means ridiculous schedules where they all begin and finish their days at different times and lunch and coffee breaks are staggered. For the students, this means that they may be with 4 or 5 different EAs during the day; not an ideal situation. Only the most severe disabilities are qualifying for assistance now, and students who have had EAs in the past are suddenly on their own. I don't know how they expect teachers to provide a quality education without EAs for students who desperately need them. It seems we're going backwards.

Jodi - posted on 03/14/2011

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"The fact that the school is refusing aides to children that need it is the school's decision, to spend the money intended for that child elsewhere. "

Interesting you say that Amy. I heard just the other day that in Australia, it is the same at public schools, money intended for aides and other resources intended for a particular child can be spent any way a public school chooses. Most schools DO use it for its intended purpose, but from what I gather, not all do. However, private and Catholic schools do actually use that money specifically for resources for that child. This probably explains why parents of children classified with a disability are choosing to stay out of our public system where they can afford to.

On the flip side of the benefits to the child with the disability and the advantages to them, I also think there are advantages for our own children in integrating with children with disabilities. It can be used as a teaching tool for tolerance. If we put them all away in special schools, when the system shows intolerance in a regular environment, how would our children learn this important lesson?

[deleted account]

I've never really thought about this which is why I'm commenting so I can follow this thread. Carry on....

JuLeah - posted on 03/14/2011

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A seperate school doesn't better meet their needs. If a child will live in society, then they ought to be educated in said society. Regardless of ability, kids help kids learn. Children struggling to read are helped by children who read well. We all have some gift to share with others and if we lock some of our population in the attic, we send a message to our kids that 'they' are different, odd, to be avoided. We used to do that with folks who are blind and deaf, we now know what amazing contrbutions that community has made. I have only seen kids with extra needs have a negitive impact when the parents have taught their child to seem the kid in this light. "My mom says you are retarded. I hate you" I have really heard stuff like that, but when they start to play, kids soon forget the differences and focus on the play.

ME - posted on 03/14/2011

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In nearly every district in IL, aid positions have been either completely eliminated or drastically reduced. This was also beginning to happen in CO in 2008 when I left there. My parents and siblings are all educators in the state of IL, my father a 30+ year administrator. The state is broke and so is the federal government. As we repeatedly cut taxes on the wealthy in the last decade, the states ability to fund special needs services and education programs has been drastically reduced. As the recession hit, that became even more difficult. SO...yes, technically schools are supposed to be reimbursed for services to special needs kids, but that is no longer happening in this state, and I'm sure, in others across the country. My mom had special needs kids in her mainstream classroom with NO aid and no help every semester. She was not trained to deal with this. My brother in law is facing the reality of this right now in a VERY poor urban community where most of his students are low-functioning or behavior disordered or "at-risk" in some way, but he has NO support system available. This is not a good environment for anyone: teachers, "avg." students, or special needs students.

Brandi - posted on 03/14/2011

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I agree with Erin. I think it depends on exactly how much special attention they need.

At my old school, I had a girl in my grade who had downs syndrome, and another girl (not really sure what she had).. but you could see the roaming the halls with all of the regular students, only difference is they had a special teacher. I think that was a great idea. They still got to interact with others, and we got to interact with them. BUT, their teacher was trained to help them in a way that our fast paced classes couldn't. No, I don't think they should have to go to a separate school, but a separate teacher educated in special needs field is a wonderful idea to me.

Iridescent - posted on 03/14/2011

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I'm also in the US. The school is reimbursed for every disabled child and every service they provide to that child. The fact that the school is refusing aides to children that need it is the school's decision, to spend the money intended for that child elsewhere. It's up to the parent of that child (and every child effected in the class as a result) to demand the child get the services they are entitled to. It really is as simple as that.

Rosie - posted on 03/14/2011

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my friend has two sons with autism. her oldest is 7, and since being in regular school has grown leaps and bounds. he talks, he knows all the stuff "regular" kids know. he wasn't like this before school. he couldn't talk very much, didnt' know his abc's wasn't potty trained, nothing. he is also a lot calmer now.

i think it's a great thing for special needs children to be put in regular school, as long as they can handle it.



as for other kids, i'm not sure how they would react. when i was in school we had one child who was special needs and she got made fun of alot. now, in my kids school there are plenty of special ed. kids and my children at least don't say anything negative towards them, or talk about them negatively to me. hopefully that will continue!

Michele - posted on 03/14/2011

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I tend to agree that there needs to be evaluation on an individual basis, in an ongoing way. Right now, due to lack of funding, there is an emphasis on "mainstreaming" and it has a lot of special needs parents concerned.

ME - posted on 03/14/2011

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Our failing education system is certainly a tragedy for our children in this country! I firmly believe that the people with wealth and power in my country are intent on ensuring that only THEY get an education. I see no other explanation for their failure to fund our schools, their failure to pay our teachers a living wage (in many districts), and their failure to recognize this as the great calamity that it is! I am lucky that I will be capable of supplementing my children's educations...not all kids and parents are so lucky...

Krista - posted on 03/14/2011

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Our school has many special needs children of every ability...there are no special needs schools in our community. I think that for the most part, inclusion is great and benefits both the child and his/her peers.

The children I worry about are those with disabilities so severe that they are not able to interact with their peers much at all, are not studying the curriculum (or even paralleling the curriculum) and we don't seem to be doing much to enhance the skills they have. We have two students at our school who have severe autism (non-verbal, need toileting, often aggressive). They have full time aides, but these aides have no special training, besides a specialist visiting here and there and providing them with tips. I had one of these students in my class for a couple of months when he first moved to town, and I really wasn't able to include him in classroom activities like I would have liked, and I have no special training (besides the one university course dedicated to special ed that we were required to take).

I think that in the majority of cases, inclusion works wonderfully, but in other, more severe cases, we're doing the children and their peers a disservice by having them in a regular classroom.

Jodi - posted on 03/14/2011

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Wow, Mary, that's shocking. I do agree that in this case, it will hurt the other students. What a tragic situation for your education system :(

ME - posted on 03/14/2011

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In the US they are firing teachers and teachers aids everywhere. There isn't enough money to support these programs. This means that regular classroom teachers, who are not typically trained to deal with special needs children, are left alone with 28-35 students, some of whom have special needs. In this case, I think that it WILL hurt the classroom atmosphere, and the other students. Tolerance and acceptance are very desirable qualities in children and all people, but first and foremost, I will send my children to school to be educated. If the underfunding of American schools on it's own didn't hurt their chances of a decent education, then I believe that the scenario I described above will. Please understand, that my preference is that our Government FUND our education programs in this country, and that by doing so, all of our children would benefit by learning together, but if they aren't going to fund the programs, then we cannot expect them to work the way they would in an ideal situation...

Jodi - posted on 03/14/2011

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In Australia, medical diagnosis of a special need means you can apply for a teacher's aide funded by the Australian government. For instance, a friend of mine has a boy with Aspergers and Epilepsy, and because of both his age, and the level of his need, he has qualified for a full time aide and can participate in a public school without being a major disruption to the teacher's ability to focus on the other children.



The school my children go to has several special needs children, and in addition to special education classes for certain children, some children have government funded aides to assist them.

Louise - posted on 03/14/2011

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I trained as a special needs teacher to the under 5's and it was my job to get those children either intergrated into a play group and then onto (for want of another word) a normal school. In my opinion special needs comes in a variety of disabilities from children with slow learning and development due to being premature to those physically disabled either deaf or blind or wheel chair bound.

My feeling on this is if that child could keep up with the class at that learning pace then they have every right to be there even if this is with the aid of a one to one assistant. What I do not agree with is if that child is holding the class back because there is no funding for help.Every child has a right to education and for some it just takes a lot more planning. From my experience children do not notice a disability until much older and accept so and so as so and so and not for their disability. This is how it should be but we all know that this is not the case by the time that child gets to high school.

If my children had special needs I would want then to at least try to intergrate into a normal school because school is a snap shot to life and they will have to learn to deal with prejudice most of their lives. Things are much different now and people are more tollerant and accept people for who they are not what they have. At the end of the day every case is different and I think the personality and ability of the child needs to be accessed very carefully.

User - posted on 03/14/2011

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Every child has the right to have their educational needs met in an appropriate way for them. For most this can be achieved in mainstream, but for others a special school may be better placed to provide for them.

In an ideal world all maybe all children should be well catered for in the mainstream system, but sadly too many children do not get the education they deserve, because of lack of funding and too much beaurocracy.

Iridescent - posted on 03/13/2011

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Erin - good point. We made sure our kids do have the help they need in the classroom; one has a para 1:1 (they tried 1:2 and it did not work, as both kids are too high needs), and the other has a nurse 1:1 at all times. This allows the teacher to teach.

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