Including Students with Low Incident Disabilities in the Mainstream Academic Setting

by PammyMcB

Downing, June E.; and Peckham-Hardin, Kathryn D. (2007). Inclusive Education: What Makes It a Good Education for Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities?. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32, 16-30.

The authors of the article are Professors with the Education Department at California State University. The purpose of the study was to identify the outcomes of inclusive classrooms on the education of students with disabilities. Although the study included a diverse focus group, the group used was not representative of the population as a hole. Furthermore, the study was isolated in a metropolitan area of southern California. Also the study was done with a small group of 58 participants at only 3 inclusive educational sites. The interview questions were open-ended which allows room for less objectivity and staff interpretation. Other problems in the study include the gathering of observation data in which the observations only lasted from 20 to 60 minutes and were not repeated. Therefore, the students being observed may not have acted normally since they were not desensitized to the presence of observers. The study shows that students with and without disabilities benefit from inclusive programs, a positive outcome is evident when the parent/teacher relationship is formed, and teachers in inclusive classrooms often need more support than what they receive. Unfortunately, the study does not address educational issues faced by all students in an inclusive setting.

Friedlander, Diana. (2009). Sam Comes to School: Including Students with Autism in Your Classroom. Clearing House, 82, 141-144.

Diana Friedlander is a special education inclusion teacher in elementary education in Ridgefield, CT, and a doctoral candidate at Western Connecticut State University. The article tells the story of a boy with autism, Sam, and the issues faced by him and his teacher when he began school. The author covers in detail many struggles students with autism have as well as giving an in-depth definition of autism. Friedlander recommends communication with the parents of children with autism both before and during the school year. The author’s definition of the parent/professional relationship is supported by Downing and Peckham-Hardin. She goes over the supports and intervention strategies that can help a student with autism adjust to the environment around them such as organization, visual cues and supports, sensory supports, social supports and models, and behavioral intervention plans. Friedlander asserts that an inclusive education is beneficial for a student with autism, which is also supported by Downing and Peckham-Hardin’s article.

Keane, Elaine.; and Roberts, Jacqueline. (2008). Making Inclusion Work. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41.2, 22-27.

The authors of the article are leading specialists and consultants in Australia on autism spectrum disorders and education. The project discussed in the article is centered on the Autism Spectrum Australia Satellite Class Project in which students with an autism spectrum disorder are put into small specialist classes and eventually transitioned into a more inclusive environment. At the time of the article, the project had been in operation since 1992 and had expanded to 57 classes throughout the Sydney, Australia area. The program has shown a sixty-one percent success rate in transitioning students with autism from the specialist classes to the general education classrooms. Of those students, 95% remain in general education and several students have gone on to continue their education past their high school education. Students in the program benefit from mainstream and special education supports, resources provided to educators, ASD consultants and ASD specialized teachers, as well as ASD-specific skills-based programs.

Pearson, Sue. (2007). Exploring Inclusive Education: Early Steps for Prospective Secondary School Teachers. British Journal of Special Education, 34.1, 25-32.

Pearson coordinates the MA (SEN) program in the School of Education at the University of Leeds. Her article explores the importance of preparing future secondary educators for an inclusive classroom setting. The 5 phase plus follow-up approach was a simulation of the development of provisions that form active learning required for special needs students in an inclusive classroom. The author stresses the appropriate resources will create problems for the students and a “lack of clarity about the role of teaching assistants can impact on the teacher and pupils.” The study shows that university-based learning activities can provide a foundation to assist prospective teachers in an inclusive setting. Though the study was only done in one subject area, Pearson asserts that the findings can be generalized across the curriculum. Therefore, the addition of such programs can enhance the initial teacher training of secondary teachers, thus enabling them to be more prepared for an inclusive classroom. The limitations to the study is that the study was centralized in one university. Because the programs in other institutions may or may not better prepare prospective educators for an inclusive classroom, the program may not be an effective approach.

Schwarz, Patrick A. (2000). Special Education: A Service, Not a Sentence. Educational Leadership, 64.5, 39-42.

Patrick Schwarz is an associate professor and chair of the Diversity in Learning and Development Department of National-Louis University, Chicago. The author advocates that segregation of students with disabilities into a special education classroom is can be detrimental to the development of the students. The author feels that all students should be in an inclusive classroom setting. The author believes an inclusive classroom setting is the least restrictive environment for all students. However, the author does not take into consideration the impact of a student with special needs on the other students or the impact on students who are far behind their classmates. Some students may be disruptive or some students may not be able to keep up with the curriculum in the general education setting. The author offers a process developed by Udvari-Solner that takes into account the range of learners in a classroom and honors diversity to help with the unification of the inclusive classroom. The author concludes that the betterment of the students can be found in a fully inclusive environment.