The inclusion of special needs students is increasingly popular. In the 1984-5 school year only 25% of disabled students were educated in inclusive environments. The number almost doubled to 47.4% by the 1998-9 school year (Fine 2002). What makes the practice of inclusion accepted by so many? Research shows a plethora of benefits for the disabled child being taught in a general education setting. Learning in an inclusive environment provides for many an opportunity to grow academically. The mother of an autistic boy placed in an inclusive classroom said that “it has allowed him to realize an academic potential she never thought possible, even grasping abstract math concepts” (Bishop 2003). In a study comparing disabled students in a special education environment to those in an inclusive environment, statistics showed that those in the inclusive setting made more academic progress (Peetsma 2001).
The most significant benefit attributed to inclusion practices seems to be social development. Being involved in the same learning activities as their non-disabled peers allows disabled children to develop better interpersonal skills (Forrest & Maclay, 1997). Often disabled children are lonely, and increased social connections give them more opportunities for forming relationships with their peers (D’Alonzo, Giordano & VanLeeuwen, 1997). Also, research shows that in an inclusive environment there is a greater “demand for appropriate social behavior” as well as increased “opportunities for observational learning and interactions” and “higher levels of play” (Hanline & Daley, 2002). Expectations are higher (Hines 2001) and self- esteem may increase, as students are no longer labeled “special” but are fu...
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This article contains information on inclusion including thorough definitions of key words in the inclusion debate, a discussion of certain laws concerning inclusion, current research findings of studies regarding the usefulness of inclusion and the author's own recommendation of what should be done with respect to the education of special needs children.
Tompkins, R. & Deloney, P. (1995). Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL): Issues About Change: Inclusion: The Pros and Cons. Retrieved from the web on April 25, 2003 from http://www.sedl.org/change/issues/issues43.html.
This article provides excellent information on the pros and cons of inclusion, including background information, definitions, basic assumptions/beliefs, support for inclusion, concerns about the effects of inclusion and also information on certain laws or court cases.
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