From Inclusion to Friendship Essay

From Inclusion to Friendship Essay

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“The 1% of US students with labels of severe disabilities including mental retardation have been historically excluded from ‘inclusive’ education” (Bentley, 2008, p. 543). Laws such as PL 94-142 and “No Child Left Behind” (as cited in Bentley), say that ‘public school students with all types of disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment—‘to the maximum extent possible…with children who do not have disabilities’ the majority of these students with special education labels, such as, mental retardation and multiple disabilities are still isolated in special education classrooms (Bentley, 2008, p. 545). Wehmeyer (as cited in Bentley), points out that mere access does not promote authentic participation (Bentley, 2008, p. 546). Burkowski et al (as cited in Webster and Cater), “Friendship has been defined as a bond between two individuals that is stable across time and involves mutual affection, mutual preference and having fun together” (Webster and Carter, 2007, p. 201). It is up to parents, teachers and other paraprofessionals to seek ways to facilitate and encourage the types of positive interactions that will foster these types of friendships. If done successfully all students will benefit and there will be true inclusion.
In order to help students develop these meaningful relationships there must first be a base of communication and collaboration between teachers, parents and paraeducators who all share a stake in supporting and empowering students with and without disabilities. Downing and Peckham-Hardin found that both teachers and parents cited communication and working as a team were essential for truly inclusive education. Some of the most important components of this communication and team work ...


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...ons from the 1%: Children with Labels of Severe Disabilities and Their Peers as Architects of Inclusive Education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(5-6), 543-561.

Causton-Theoharis, J. C., & Malmgren, K. C. (2005). Increasing peer interactions for students with severe disabilities via paraprofessional training. Exceptional Children, 7(4), 431-444.

Copeland, S. R., Hughes, C., Carter, E. W., Guth, C., Presley, J. A., Williams, C. R., & Fowler, S. E. (2004). Increasing Access to General Education: Perspectives of Participants in a High School Peer Support Program. Remedial and Special Education, 25(6), 342-352.

Downing, J. E., & Peckham-Hardin, K. 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 (RPSD), 32(1), 16-30.

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