Inclusive education is a concept that has been gaining traction in the last few decades, and for good reason: if we want to create a society that values all people, we need to support all people from the earliest stages of their lives. That means providing resources and opportunities for learning in every stage of life.
The goal of inclusive education is to provide an equal chance at a quality education for children of all abilities. Some might think that meeting this goal would require lowering the bar in some way, but this is not the case. Inclusive education allows students with disabilities to receive the accommodations they need but does not require teachers to abandon standards or expectations for their students.
For example, a child who has autism may not be able to verbalize feelings or use words to communicate. However, by playing a drum or other instrument that requires physical movement, the child is able to express his feelings through the music he plays.
A child who has cerebral palsy may not be able to play the piano using her fingers because she lacks the fine motor skills necessary for such an endeavor. However, if the teacher uses adaptive equipment that allows the student to play by rolling on a large ball and making contact with different keys on the keyboard as she rolls across it, then she is still able to participate in musical activities.
The same principle can be applied to any subject area in which students are included in a regular classroom setting. For instance, students with intellectual disabilities might have trouble following what is happening in science class because of their language deficits.
Inclusive education is the practice of educating students with disabilities in general education classrooms alongside their typically-developing peers. While fully inclusive classrooms are a controversial educational approach, many believe that there are significant benefits to the inclusion of students with special needs.
When students receive inclusive education, they are given the opportunity to develop relationships with students without disabilities and learn from them directly. Students with disabilities who are educated in inclusive classrooms can also learn problem-solving skills, social skills, and more. In addition, teachers in inclusive classrooms tend to be more creative and effective at teaching because they have a wider range of students to respond to.
Inclusive education is often opposed because of concerns that it will increase costs and decrease academic performance for other students. Some parents also feel that their children may be negatively affected by participating in an inclusive classroom environment. However, research has shown that these concerns are unfounded; schools do not see their costs rise when providing inclusive education, and inclusive classrooms can actually improve academic achievement for both children with disabilities and their peers without disabilities. This is partly due to the fact that fully inclusive schools provide more opportunities for collaboration between different types of learners.
When developmentally disabled children are included in public schools amongst typical students, there are many benefits. Among these are social benefits, such as learning how to interact with others and the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group. For the disabled student, inclusion also provides a better opportunity to develop socially than a separate classroom or special education program would. The child is taught alongside other kids, rather than being isolated from them; this allows for normal social interactions to take place and makes it easier for the child to learn appropriate behavior from his peers.
Including developmentally disabled children in regular classrooms also presents an opportunity for typical students to learn about tolerance and compassion for others, especially those who are different than themselves. This can be a valuable lesson for all students and may help them become more accepting of diversity later in life. Because most kids, even those who aren’t disabled, experience difficulty learning some subjects in school at some point during their education, including developmentally disabled children in regular classrooms can give normal students some needed perspective on their own difficulties. It may make them feel less frustrated with their own problems when they observe how hard it is for a disabled classmate to learn something as simple as how to raise his hand when he has an answer in class.