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Is Integrating Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Classrooms Beneficial?

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Every person is born with a purpose and the ability to give to society in one way or another. It is inevitable that some may have more needs than others. Integrating children with special needs into mainstream schools, unarguably, promotes a more inclusive society. That said, this integration brings with it situations that need addressing. Administrators should consider them when including these children in a mainstream classroom.

One of my teaching assignments was in a school for children with hearing challenges. Some of them had traces of autism. The experience taught me that integrating children with special needs is not without challenges. Yet, such inclusion is very important for developing an empathetic, well-rounded society. It is vital to nurture children with special needs, for they are society's future contributing members.

Integrating these children into a mainstream classroom has countless benefits. They extend to both themselves and others without these needs. There are factors for administrators to consider if integration into the mainstream classroom environment becomes an option.

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What it is like teaching children with hearing challenges

Some years ago, I left a teaching in a secondary school and went instead to teach students who had impaired hearing. Breaking down mathematical concepts into manageable processes was a daily, interesting and fruitful challenge. So was teaching them to read, which I did with simple sentences, word structures and catchy songs. Sorting out mathematical concepts with manipulates and cards was challenging as well. The efforts bore fruit when some children began to read with more facility. Increasingly, they used manipulates to complete problem sums.

What made this school worthy of mention was that it made some genuine, though not always successful, attempts at including students with hearing impairment in a mainstream classroom. Teachers, including myself, had to wear FM transmitters so that they could properly communicate with students who had difficulties hearing. They attended classes in a mainstream setting with students with normal hearing. What was significant was that students with hearing difficulties learned positive social communication, while their peers without such difficulties learned to empathize with the obstacles they had to face.

Teaching students with a mild level of autism

Not too long ago, a student with mild autism attended one of my classes. He spoke well, but had difficulties connecting with literature as a subject. Socially, he coped admirably. He may have had some disagreements with his peers from mainstream environments, but they came to accept his differences and difficulties. He made many friends.

This boy even learned to play the piano. I had him over to my house several times and helped him compose a tune based on his favorite animated film. With such opportunities and support from his parents, we saw a distinct improvement in his grades.

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What are the benefits of integration for the special needs child

More than 15 years of research has proven the benefits of inclusion for all involved in the process. All students grow when schools include special needs children in a mainstream environment.

Greater access to the mainstream curriculum

Students with special needs have more opportunities for academic growth because they have greater access to the mainstream curriculum. With greater exposure to the challenges of learning, they have better chances to take bigger steps forward.

In the above school for children with hearing challenges, students with both reduced hearing levels and Asperger’s Syndrome benefited greatly from integration in the mainstream curriculum, achieving outstanding results. They went on to do very well in various secondary schools.

Improved reading levels

Children with special needs, and hence, reading difficulties, benefit greatly from inclusion in the mainstream. The reading levels of their mainstream peers also increase.

Before entering a mainstream environment, a student who had impaired hearing and difficulties with speech did not have good diction when pronouncing some of his words. He amazed me a few months later by speaking with increased fluency and better pronunciation. He claimed that he learned to say certain words from listening to a friend sitting next to him.

Increased social opportunities and exposure to proper role models

Integration into the mainstream for the child with special needs means the chance to interact with peers from mainstream environments. Such play is a way of developing proper socialization skills for any child, and is indispensable. The role modeling helps to nurture social skills.

Increased skill acquisition opportunities

The mainstream curriculum presents the special needs child with more chances to acquire the skills that are not necessarily included in a special needs curriculum. For instance, more mathematical concepts would be included in a mainstream curriculum than in one targeted at children with more needs.

Increased parental participation

Parents whose children have special needs are often motivated to volunteer in their child’s school community and their child’s needs.

The mother of the autistic boy in my literature class was always present for Parent Teacher Conferences and volunteering to help in school based activities. This was beneficial for both her and her child, as she had greater awareness of how the school operated. She was better able to help her child at home as well.

Plymouth Zone Singing with children with special needs

Greater opportunities to be integrated into the community

Being in a mainstream environment affords more opportunity for children to be able to socialize This creates a higher chance of acceptance into the community.

Many children with special needs in the mainstream school where I taught made many friends and were widely accepted by them. More often than not, children in the mainstream environment accept them once their needs are explained.

Increased self respect and confidence

Being in a mainstream environment creates more self-respect and confidence for a child with special needs. Their self-esteem is given a great boost when they are around their peers in the mainstream environment.

Preparation for adult life in an inclusive society

Having the same experiences as their peers in a mainstream environment means that children with special needs are prepared for the rigors of adult life.They are armed with the sets of social and emotional skills necessary for coping with adult life

Higher employment rate among those with special needs

If children with special needs have the same sets of skills developed as their peers in mainstream schools, they are also better prepared to be contributing members of the workforce.

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Does integrating children with special needs have benefits?

Students without special needs will benefit from having their friends with those needs included in the environment as well.

Increased application of strategies beneficial to all students

The teacher in an inclusive classroom has to use strategies that will help children who progress, academically, at different rates. The all rounded approach will benefit both students with and without special needs.

Enhanced feelings of self-esteem

Students without special needs can experience feelings of self-esteem when asked to help or tutor their disadvantaged peers. I paired a female student with the boy with autism I mentioned earlier. She was never respected by her classmates, for she was reserved and quiet. Pairing her with the boy helped her feel better about herself, her ability to understand literature and allowed her to help him as well.

Empathy for the limitations of others

When students without special needs see their peers with these needs on a regular basis, there is a higher potential for developing sensitivity and empathy for their limitations. They will know why they learn at a slower pace.

The students in the class the boy with autism belonged to were initially rather apprehensive when they saw him lose his temper over trivial matters. The form teacher’s explanation of his needs and how to relate to him helped tremendously with the integration.

Preparation for integration in an inclusive society

Students without special needs will come to accept that those with these needs can make contributions to society. They will build better rapport with others and understand their difficulties better when they enter the workforce.

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What do administrators have to consider when integrating children with special needs into mainstream schools?

Integrating children with special needs in a regular, mainstream classroom comes with issues that need addressing. Awareness of these issues enables successful integration.

Properly trained teaching staff


One of the difficulties of including special needs children in mainstream classes is that the teacher in charge of the class might not have formal training in special education. To enable him or her to empathize with and handle its difficulties, such training is necessary.

Support staff

Mainstream schools should have available support staff to help a special needs child with any difficulties he may have. It is a task for a teacher, who is addressing the problems that come with mainstream teaching, to balance this with the demands of teaching a child with special needs.

Schools which have decided to include children with special needs into their environment must have properly trained support staff.

The child's readiness

It is not wise to integrate a child into a mainstream classroom when he is not developmentally ready. This applies academically, emotionally and mentally. There are physical difficulties involved in integration, so school should do so only after it has assessed the child's readiness level.

Breaks/Recess/Lunch

Children with special needs have a higher tendency to find themselves in difficult situations during breaks, when they are not supervised. They may get lost or into unintended altercations with other children. Children who display traces of autism may also find it difficult to shut out lunch time noises.

The best way to counter theses problems is to occupy them during these breaks. The boy with autism in my literature class often came to me during recess for piano lessons. He kept himself gainfully busy.

Changing classrooms between subjects

This is the time when a child with special needs might become lost. It likely happens when he is first introduced to a new environment. A way of countering this potential problem is to assign a buddy who can help to guide the child to the correct room.

Writing assignments

Children with special needs will need a more time to complete written assignments. This is especially true of language assignments or testing situations.

A few students with special needs in the mainstream school where I taught were given an added half an hour to complete their tests and assignments. One or two actually surpassed their mainstream peers in terms of academic performance.

Punishment

Teachers need to develop alternative ways to manage special needs students who are a little restless in the classroom. They need to know how to react when these students lose control of their emotions.

What I did with special needs children in my classroom was to constantly reinforce that certain behaviors were not socially acceptable. That said, it is important not to punish children for behaviors that they cannot control. An example of this is talking too loudly. To ease these difficulties, parents should communicate them to teachers.

Conclusion

Including special needs children in a mainstream classroom benefits all students socially, emotionally and academically. It comes with challenges, but patience and effort makes it a fulfilling process.

Comments 71 comments

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

An article on the benefits of including children with special needs in mainstream schools, and things to consider when doing so.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I will take you a step further; not only is it beneficial but I believe it is crucial and necessary. It benefits the special needs child but I also think it benefits the "normal" learner. I love your hub, and as a former teacher I endorse it totally. Well done and sharing.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Bill. It benefits everyone involved, really, because the child with no special needs learns empathy, while the one with the needs gains socially, emotionally and mentally. Thanks for sharing!


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

It sounds real good to the teachers, but for me personally it was not a good experience to be mainstreamed. I found my high-school years very lonely and constantly avoiding the bullies.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

I guess the teachers then were also less aware of the benefits of being mainstreamed, Lipnancy. You've brought up a good point...in order to mainstream effectively, the teachers have to play a part in constantly emphasizing that any making fun of differences will not be tolerated, and teach them that children with special needs are special. Thanks for sharing.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Can't help, but agree with the overall ideas here in your article having taught in an inclusion classroom with mainstreamed children in the middle school setting. I even had one student who got a cochlear implant the year I taught him, before that he was completely deaf. So from all I witnessed and was apart of mainstreaming is so very beneficial to all students involved and you are completely right here Michelle. Have of course voted and shared all over!!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

I am a school parent governor for a primary school and I am delighted how clearly you've lai d out the benefits to the students and to the overall educational ethos. Often students with special needs may be viewed as an interruption to the 'daily routine' rather than a valuable addition. I see this because sometimes the teachers are poorly trained, resourced and supported in managing the extra effort it takes to change tutoring methodologies. In my own field of post grad education every time a teacher has tutored someone with exceptional needs they have always come away feeling that their overall teaching strategies have improved. I thing appropriate support, resourcing, shared learning and ongoing training for the teachers will be the key to proper integration. Wonderful hub! up/awesome.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Janine! It is beneficial for all concerned, but nonetheless, as Lipnancy pointed out, there will be issues that still need to be addressed. Also need to constantly emphasize to the rest that they should be accepting of differences. Thanks for coming by!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Docmo, your support there was really heartening. Kids with special needs need the support of school parent governors like yourself. Yes, totally agreed. Many teachers who have not been trained in special needs do not know how to manage their teaching strategies to be inclusive of students who are not as strong academically. The teacher also has quite a big responsibility in making the other students in the class aware of the great need to be inclusive too. Thanks for coming by!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Michelle, Very interesting hub. I have just finished working at a school where inclusion was given a high priority but inclusion, as you say, is not an easy thing to organise and in the UK I still think it is school support staff who tend to be given responsibility for most of the 'teaching' of special needs children; this is because teachers cannot provide that one to one support when they are teaching a class of 30 children. Staff training should be a main priority of all schools so that staff understand the wider picture with inclusion; as you say it isn't just about helping them today - it's about preparing them for the future too.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Where I went to High School, there is a school for special needs children and my school had a cafe where they allowed the special needs children to work. Even at my work, we have a special needs woman who works 6-10 hours a week. Whenever I walk around Rowan in the morning, there is always a large class of special needs children walking with teachers and sharing laughs. I can't help but be touched by this because the schools are doing all they can to get special needs kids more involved with life around them. My sister just updated me a while back on how she has a couple students in her class with learning disabilities and she works with them. I'm with Bill that it's crucial and necessary to have special needs children more involved with the real classroom.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Inclusion is such a popular topic and movement in education today! This is a really good look at how beneficial inclusion can be.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Michelle, very informative, before reading this I could not see how the other children would benefit from inclusion of a child with special needs, except for understanding and learning about tolerance and being different. It seemed that all the children would be disadvantaged, including the child with special needs. Everyone getting less than they need. You've shown that there are much more to consider, and I can see that you are a wonderful and intuitive teacher. My best to you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I totally agree with you that children with special needs do find it beneficial to integrate in a mainstream school. I used to be a teacher/helper at Kumon, an after school extra learning lesson, and there were a couple of children with autism, who I found would integrate with the other children. I did notice that unlike adults the young children acted normally around the autistic children therefore making it a stress free lesson, it was lovely to see.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

True, Julie. The problem is that teachers find it hard to manage a class of 30 or 40 and still teach the child with needs too. What is definitely needed is proper training and a picture of inclusion, preparation for the different strategies that have to be used to benefit all involved. Perhaps designing tasks in such a way that students of all abilities can participate in them. It is a lot of hard work, certainly! Thanks for coming by!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Hi Keith, it is definitely necessary for socialization and to bridge gaps. For younger children, it's especially important, and as they get into teen hood, it's also important for teachers to emphasize constantly that differences should be accepted. Thanks for the insight!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I think this hub really speaks to the meaning of life. What could be more satisfying than helping these children with so many problems and who probably accept life as it is much better then we ever could. You have a great heart, up and sharing.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Definitely beneficial for socialization, Natashalh. It must be properly guided, though! Thanks for coming by!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Jo. It cannot be denied that including them in the classroom comes with challenges. But if managed properly and if the teacher is trained to understand the child with special needs, inclusion can be beneficial. The benefits should also be explained to those who are involved too. Thanks for sharing.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

It is really great to give children who need a bit more help a hand, Jackie, and when you teach you'll find that these are the ones who are closest to you! Thanks for sharing, and coming by!


thewritingowl profile image

thewritingowl 4 years ago from Ireland

I really enjoyed this hub. My own son has just turned 5 and has ASD and Developmental Delay. He is currently in an Early Intervention class but next year I will have to decide on his longer term education. I find it hard to imagine his attending mainstream because of his D.D. and especially as he is still non-verbal. Also my other worry is that here in Ireland the support services for mainstream are very poor especially with the current cutbacks affecting special needs kids. I would really like him to go to mainstream in the longer term but don't feel he is at a level to cope with it now at least. Your hub has given me a lot of food for thought so thanks for that.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks for sharing, thewritingowl. If a child's not ready to be mainstreamed, it's best not to do it, because he might not be able to adjust. It's worse if the support services are not so good. He'll be ready to do so one day! Thanks for coming by!


thewritingowl profile image

thewritingowl 4 years ago from Ireland

Thanks too for your comment and my thoughts exactly best to wait until he is ready and if he never is well then that's just how it will be. We will just have to wait and see.


nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 4 years ago from Southeast USA

Beautiful and well written hub. Needs to be said more often. Thanks for writing this. Voted up.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Thank you for this hub and I agree integrating them in mainstream is beneficial not only in terms of benefit to the youngsters with special needs but to teach the mainstream younsters how to interact with them also.

This is a wonderful article and thank you for sharing.

Eddy.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Just a matter of time, writing owl! Thanks for coming by again!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Nancy. We should always highlight the importance of accepting differences. Thanks for sharing!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore Author

The socialization is important, and so is building empathy, something that always has to work both ways! Thanks for sharing!


Kerry43 3 years ago

Excellent article, and such am important topic. I was happy to see you mention the benefits for the children without those special needs.

Terrific hub!

Voted up & Useful.

Tweet!

Enjoy your day

Kerry:)


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Hi Kerry!! Thanks for coming by!! I think the greatest benefit that it has for children without these needs is a little empathy! Thanks so much for sharing!


Kerry43 3 years ago

Oh yes, absolutely! One of my grandsons is Autistic- he is such a bubbly little fellow and loves his pre-school now. It did take some time though. He's waiting back for another year before "big school".

Thank you again for sharing with us.

Kerry :D


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Blessings to your little grandson for me, and it's hard for children in his situation to enjoy preschool. A really positive sign that he does!! Thanks for coming in again!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I do so admire teachers such as yourself who go out of their way to be a good and caring teachers. It's is a profession that I know I could not pursue. My granddaughter just began teaching, she has always wanted to teach.

You have written about a subject that I have just never thought of, but what you say makes perfectly good sense.

I voted UP, etc. and will share. goodnight, Mary


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

Thank you midget, I taught in both kinds of classrooms, self-contained and mainstreamed. Those in mainstreaming did better and had higher self esteem and were more motivated in their class work. Thank you again. whonnu


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Hi Mary, thanks for coming by!! Your granddaughter has chosen a noble and definitely challenging, but rewarding profession. (Sounds very much like writing.) Thanks for sharing!! I guess she will come across students with special needs in the course of her work. My blessings as she embarks on a richly rewarding career!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

I agree, Whonu. Being in the same class as peers without any special needs would make them feel confident that they can achieve at the same level. And indeed, many do! Thanks for sharing!


jengracehodges profile image

jengracehodges 3 years ago from Southeastern United States

Thanks for this very informative article!

I volunteer at my local church to teach kids' church, and we have a few special needs children that we integrate into our normal classroom. I have found that they tend to receive a lot from these times, but they also teach each teacher and student something new every time they are there. It is a reward to be able to teach such people. They truly show us what it means to work hard to accomplish a goal.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

The way you ended this article is important. It is good for those with special needs and for those without them. It does come with its own special set of challenges.

Over the 40 years that I taught I had many, many special needs chldren from atutistic to severely emotionally distrubed.

One year I had a young boy in eight grade who was wheelchair bound and had no use of his limbs...he had severe cerebral palsy. He had a full time assistant which helped so much but he was an integral part of our class. The other children learned so much from him and he from them. He later went on to become valedictorain of his senior class.

I had a set of twins many years later who stand out in my mind. One of the twins had cerebral palsy which affected his left leg to a pretty significant degree and his left arm and hand. His brother was very protective of him and wanted to be there for him at every turn. The children were also very protective of him but allowed him to be himself; they did not baby him but would shield him from unkind remarks from others. There were so many others throughout the year who had speical needs but refused to let it be a stumbling block for them. It was so uplifting and inspiring to see these young people achieve and become successful students.

The benefits to the other children in my classroom was evident. Kids caring for each other was a good thing.

Thank you for sharing this beautifully composed article on such an important topic Sending you some Angels today. :0 ps


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Pstraubie, thanks for coming by. I once taught in a special school for the hearing impaired and those who were integrated into the mainstream clearly benefited from being part of it both in terms of self esteem and grades.

I also taught a boy with autism. He was not academically inclined,but managed to stand out musically! Thanks for sharing about your experiences with the twins and the boy with cerebral palsy. It is really important to be inclusive....if we can't now, it won't be easy for them in the future!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I can't think of anything more helpful & beneficial to the overall experience and education of our youth, than to have all children, together learning and growing together in mainstream classrooms.

Each individual has their own special talents and gifts to offer and share. We live in the same world, want the same things for ourselves and our children. To not offer every human being the same opportunities as a group of peers, leaves vital lessons undiscovered.

This integrated scenario, IMO, is a gift to all children and can only improve their education, as well as their lives, in general.

Thank you for this awesome article, midget. It's A-Plus!....UP+++


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I can't understand how I missed this....your experience shines through in this well written hub. Life is inclusive and so should school be.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Paula! No matter who we are, we all have everything to offer. Integration boosts confidence and everyone can teach each other new things! Thanks for sharing!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks Mary. Yes, I learned to use transmitters to talk to those whose hearing was, and still is impaired. When given a chance, they are amazing! Thanks for sharing!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Michelle,

Thank you very much for writing such an enlightening hub. After reading this article and having an autistic girl in my fifth grade class this past year, I can clearly see the benefits of integrating the special needs kids in regular classes. My autistic girl did really grow and improve during the year. It took a lot of understanding and patience from me and the other members of the class. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Hi Paul, thank you. Yes, mixing around does help the child with special needs! Thanks for sharing!


Thundermama profile image

Thundermama 3 years ago from Canada

I was very keen to read this hub as I am raising three children with special needs of varying degrees. They are all students in inclusive classrooms with a moderate amount of success. Although I whole heartedly agree with the idea of inclusion I would counter that this method is not effective unless there are the proper resources available, like an Educational Assistant and technology to assist these students. Unfortunately, in Canada, there has been such a reduction in spending on education, that this is not the case, leaving teachers overwhelmed, and special need students without the help they so desperately need. My daughter with the most severe special needs has articulated that it is hard to be in a class of children and always be reminded that she is not like them (she is 10 and cannot read or do simple math and has a language impairment.) She has stated her preference would be to be with kids like her. In an ideal world I would like to see her spend half the day in an inclusive classroom and half the day with children with special needs. Inclusive classrooms until grade 8 are mandated by the school boards here, so this won't happen. That being said, I applaud your hub and your superb writing skills. It was a pleasure to read and you brought up some very valid points.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

I imagine that she would like to spend time with those who empathize with her as well as be given time to allow children in inclusive environments to understand her situation. I can completely empathize with your daughter's feelings of frustration. Thanks for sharing!!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

having taught both general and special ed, I thinks the success comes from both working together in the same setting as much as possible. This is a very informative hub.Good Job!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Mixing around creates more understanding indeed, Rebecca!


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

Well done!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Levertis!


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

A wisely written hub with sensible points! I could completely relate to this hub of yours as I was once a student with hearing impairement studying in a mainstream school. I agree with your valid points. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Beautiful & Interesting. Voted up & shared


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Ish. I think it has its benefits despite its drawbacks. Thanks for sharing!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks so much for your wonderful and intelligent views on inclusion. I think that the students benefit so much from inclusion, yet at the same time it poses so many problems for teachers and others. Thanks for hanging in. I am a retired special ed teacher, so bless you many times over!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, that balance must be worked out with a bit of training and knowledge! Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

Michelle, very well written article. I have a BS in Deaf Education and have been a teacher of the deaf in all manner of classrooms for many years in WI, WA, and MN. I also have been an interpreter for the deaf/hard of hearing at the elementary, high school and college level and taught Adult Basic Education for the Deaf in MN. You are exactly right when you say that a program of inclusion for deaf and hard of hearing students needs knowledgeable and supportive staffing. As a person who has seen one of my students mainstreamed at the high school level and years later in adult education, I would say that the choice of mainstreaming or not SPECIFICALLY for the deaf and hard of hearing student, depends on a great many considerations. The main reason for this is the isolation that can be caused if communication is limited. I think the advent of cochlear implants and improved hearing aids have made mainstreaming a much more viable solution for the deaf child than it was when I started out in 1969. The hardest decision I ever had to be part of was in a rural area. I was tutoring a lovely 6th grade girl, one-on-one. Everyday during our language lessons, she would start to cry. "All the boys chase all the other girls on the playground. No one chases me." She was becoming more and more depressed. She wasn't being bullied. In fact, the girls would invite her to their sleep-overs. When they all laughed and joked, however, she didn't get it and felt isolated. Eventually the team decided to send her to the School for the Deaf in the area only a few miles from home. I cried in the meeting in front of everyone. My professionalism simply broke down at that point. It was a wrenching decision. A few months later, this young girl was on the jr. cheerleading squad at the school for the deaf. She's in her 40s now and we're friends on facebook. Would her life have been different or better had she stayed in the mainstream. I'll never know. We make the best decisions with the information we have at the moment. The student I had interpreted for at the high school level who appeared again in my life at Adult Basic Education would play the "air guitar" in his high school classroom where he had been placed with students who had emotional difficulties. Jared when on to be heavily involved in drugs, but eventually found his way back. It's a serious call and like you say, the staff in the mainstream can make it or break it. The one suggestions that I feel is critical for the deaf child is for the staff to bring in stellar deaf and hard of hearing role models for the children. There is NOTHING like having this type of role modeling. As hearing individuals we have no idea of the challenges. Parents worry about the influence of sign language on a child with a coclear implant, for example, who doesn't sign. My hearing daughter knew sign language when she was little; it didn't result in her using it during her life. But all of this is very delicate. In the end, the student with hearing challenges, given love and guidance, no matter what method is chosen, ends up becoming a happy, fulfilled, contributing member of society with families and wonderful children of their own.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

True, Billie. What you've just shared shows that inclusion necessarily means educating those in the mainstream on the needs of those who are NOT mainstream to promote better understanding. And if that is done, everyone can truly benefit. Cochlears really help those who are severely or profoundly impaired! Almost all live normal lives once they have been given this. Thanks for sharing your experiences here, Billie.


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

What's amazing to me, Michelle, is that your question on empathy brought me to your hubs which are all closely related to my intersts. I find that fascinating. It's not that the interests fall in one straight line either. Actually, that was the basic on which the Strong Campbell Interest Test was normed - on the assumption that people with a cluster of interests end up in the same type of work. As Spock would say, Fascinating!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Hi Billie! I'm glad we connect in this way. Yes, I sort of agree with the Campbell conclusion. People with a similar array of interests do end up in similar fields! Oh, And coincidentally, I love Spock too!


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

Oh my goodness, I LOVE hubpages for this reason. I'm getting a bit addicted to ques. and answers and need to write more - here I go. Have a cheery day, Michelle!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Have fun, Billie! Am so glad to connect with you.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia

Hi Michelle, I enjoyed reading your article. I have been a proponent of children with special needs in the classroom with typically developing children. I was director of a program for infants to kindergartners that did just that. Everyone benefitted, the children with special needs, the typical kids and the parents of both. I think that it helps for children to see and accept that all of us have differences in some way.

For the children with special needs, I think it raises the expectations we have instead of automatically thinking they are unable to accomplish something because of a disability.

I could go on, but the gist is that you have a great article with some well presented findings and observations.

Voted up!!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Cyndi, this is personally one of the articles that means a lot to me as well. What society needs is a little less judgment, less selfishness, the willingness to grant more opportunity and a little less narrow mindedness. Thanks for sharing!


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

We are totally on the same page here! My son has Autism and ADHD, as well as other things.

He wasn't diagnosed until he was older. It was very challenging. He is mainstreamed at school with an aide. He is doing remarkably well.

What I have found as a parent is when he is with other children with behavioral issues (like himself), he feeds off of that. When he is with other children in a regular classroom, he picks up their social cues and copies them. So he is better rounded, I guess I'm trying to say, from being mainstreamed. We've also had many therapists, doctors, tests, etc., that he's gone through.

I totally agree with communicating with the teacher. That's one thing I think our public school here lacks. I just met with the Board of Ed and other parents. We talked about some issues such as communication.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Is integrating children with special needs in mainstream classrooms beneficial? A beautifully thought of hub and every child born is with a purpose irrespective of the illness. You said well and created a heartfelt hub.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

I am glad your little boy is doing well, CraftytotheCore! I think there is safety in numbers....the presence of others who are in the same situation sort of gives a license to behave in the same way as they do. A good teacher always helps!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, every child is born with a purpose, DDE!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Very interesting article on inclusion. All my sentiments exactly!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks Rebecca!


RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 16 months ago from New York

Voted Up as useful and interesting. As a progressive society, we need to move beyond the rhetoric and the homogenization of our nation's children. Inclusion allows the beautiful threads of our diverse tapestry of human agency to thrive and unite---we are mentoring a society of acceptance of unique abilities. Strong teams are comprised of all kinds of beautiful minds and talents, and we need to model this for infusion into the macrocosm. Thanks for massaging my brain and heart today.


Marie H Vonow profile image

Marie H Vonow 9 months ago from South Australia

I found this article thought provoking. I think some special needs children will benefit from being in a mainstream school and others will get more support from attending a special school. It depends on the individual child and the schools available in their area and the facilities and teaching support available.

My sister who is now 62, was born with cerebral palsy. She has speech difficulties and uses a wheelchair for mobility. When she attended school,my sister lived at a centre set up for children with cerebral palsy as we lived in the country. It was hard for her being away from family but she made some close friends and the facilities were very good for the time. There were some excellent teachers and aides who knew a great deal about cerebral palsy.

My sister never felt inadequate as all the children had cerebral palsy or a similar disability. She was able to have regular physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. There was a heated pool at the school so she was able to get regular water therapy. Sports and games were modified for wheelchair users so my sister was able to participate in physical activities regularly.

The latest treatments were used and there was a doctor on site. My sister, along with many of her fellow students used a typewriter to do much of her work. This produced a better result than writing by hand as she suffered spasms and writing was very difficult for her and others found it almost impossible to decipher her writing. My sister spent part of the day in a special standing box to strengthen her legs.

Recommended treatments are different these days but at the time the therapy used was the latest. School concerts were planned so all the children could participate in a role that allowed them to take part to the best of their ability. I do not see how all of the support my sister received could have been done in a mainstream school.

I can see the benefits for some special needs children to be integrated into mainstream schools if adequate human and other resources are available. However, I think there is a place for special school to cater fully for the needs of some students.

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