Inclusion and Children with Disabilities
Exclusion of children with disabilities is a controversial issue. All over the country, children with disabilities as well as their families are not fully enjoying their fundamental human rights and are facing constant barriers to inclusion in society. Marginalization of disabled children deters them from realizing their full potential in life. Though there has been a positive change toward positive perception of children with disabilities, what people refer to as inclusion is not what inclusion implies since there are many incidences of differential treatment not only to children with disabilities but also to their families.
Different people describe inclusion in various ways. Avramidis and Burden described an inclusive environment and several characteristics that it constitutes (2000). According to these scholars, the first inclusion occurs in schools and facilities that ease the interaction of children with disabilities and those children without disabilities in the communities near their homes. Additionally, this concept entails individualized decisions made by the community members regarding the best services and programs for the children with disabilities. Also, collaborative teaching occurs when a class does not exceed 10% of the population of children with disabilities (Avramidis and Burden, 2000).
Educating Children with Disabilities through Inclusion
It is the claim of every child to access basic education, and opportunities should be given equal opportunity. The global objective of inclusive settings entails providing equal admittance to educational activities to all individuals with and without disabilities (Soodak, Podell, & Lehman, 1998). According to Gilhool, collaborative teaching involves the incorporation of the children with disabilities in the same learning environments with their counterparts who are not disabled (1989).
In history, children with disabilities were not educated in the United States. However, a policy change allowed schools to serve all students regardless of their circumstances. Also, it required all children with disabilities to be placed in environments that are least restrictive. According to the United States Department of Education data (2010), the number of children who require special treatments has increased with time. The proportion of students with difficulties in learning and taught in the common education classrooms increased from 22% to 62% between 1989 and 2008 (McLeskey and Waldron,2011).
There is a negative attitude towards children with disabilities among many teachers. Some teachers feel inadequate and believe that they lack sufficient training to handle children with learning disabilities. In the United States, children with disabilities face momentous barriers to accessing eminence early childhood programs and are only offered special education services separate from those without disabilities (policy statement, 2016). However, the American government is putting continuous efforts such as curriculum modification, adoption of changes in teaching styles, and classroom restructuring to ensure equality between children with disabilities and those without disabilities. Teachers, though may not be sufficiently supported should be willing to cope with children with diverse needs.
Methods used in Collaborative teaching
Educating children with disabilities in the United States involve the use of special techniques and strategies. The most commonly used methods are co-teaching, differentiated instructions, and peer- mediated interventions.
Co-Teaching is a teaching method that involves offering education support to students with special needs through incorporating general and special education teachers. One of those techniques is known as one teach, whereby one teacher is charged with the responsibility of giving instructions to all students while other teachers offer further support to students in need (Forlin, Jobling, & Carrol, 2001). Another technique is known as station teaching and involves dividing students into three groups where one of the two teachers serves each group. Additionally, parallel teaching entails splitting students into two groups after planning the lessons. Thus, students benefit by learning from both teachers and their fellow students. Alternating teaching is also a co-teaching technique and involves one teacher pre-teaching while the other re-teaches the concepts to students who require further support. Other teaching techniques involve teachers giving instructions in the same room.
Differentiated instructions method
This method involves supplying the students with exceptional various needs with materials and methods that match their needs. This method requires the educators to have flexible teaching techniques and be able to change the system depending on the needs of the students (Jobe, Rust & Brissie, 1996).
Peer-mediated interventions method
This method involves the use of students as teachers to other students. Thus, teachers act as instructors to the students who teach. According to Ross (1984), peers provide direct or indirect instructions. Additionally, peers can concentrate on either academic or social progress.
Challenges of Collaborative teaching with Children with Disabilities
Positive relationships between children, school, and community determine the student’s success. Thus, it is essential to create successful collaborative relationships with all children. However, teachers face many challenges in their attempts to promote collaborative relationships with children with disabilities.
In rising up a child with a disability, parents face many complexities that make it difficult for teachers to know the best way to initiate affirmative collaboration with them (Dunst & Dempsey, 2007). Moreover, a good number of teachers lack the required skills, knowledge, and attitudes to handle students with disabilities. Another challenge is that some people in the discipline of special education and other professions do not put the necessary efforts to enhance collaboration. Thus, inclusive teaching becomes difficult because of the lack of competent teachers to cater for the specific requirements of students.
The failure of teachers to adopt strategies to support children with disabilities poses a significant challenge to collaborative teaching. Most teachers are not aware of the law regarding special education as well as the classification of students (McLeskey, Landers, Williamson & Hoppey, 2010).
There are also challenges of vocational classrooms, such as difficulties with classrooms managements and lack of understanding of special educational laws. In the United States, though children with disabilities get admission to public schools, they remain separated in special streams where they receive training (Casale, 2012). Thus, there is no full endorsement of children with disabilities in the education system.
Those students with special needs sometimes do not possess basic skills needed to receive instructions effectively. Therefore, it becomes difficult to disseminate the relevant knowledge that can help them to move to higher levels of learning. Thus, there is a need for students to learn basic skills though the number of special educators is not enough to meet their needs.
Benefits of Collaborative teaching to Children with Disabilities
Education is important for the economic and social life a person. As such, the inclusion of children with disabilities in the education system makes them more knowledgeable and also promotes social growth. Collaborative teaching helps the students with disabilities to realize their full potential and exploitation of their talents. This involvement also makes these children believe in themselves and understand that despite how a person is, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and is perfect in their own ways.
Inclusion promotes social interactions. This act enables children with disabilities to mix freely with those without disabilities in learning institutions. Consequently, they interact and learn from each other hence promoting a sense of equality. Further, the skills gained enable them to get jobs and able to earn a living, resulting in individual growth and overall economic growth of the country.
Scholars view inclusion as a facility that facilitates the interaction of children with disabilities and those without disabilities. The primary aim is to make children with disabilities feel equal to those without disabilities, an aspect that improves their self esteem and motivation to achieve various goals in their lives. Discrimination of children with disabilities is harmful both to them and to the society. Therefore, vigorous campaigns should be conducted by the U.S government and non-governmental organizations to sensitize people to the importance of their inclusion in all aspects of human existence. However, full inclusion may not produce the desired results due to some factors. The government should put persistent efforts in ensuring elimination of all obstacles that children with disabilities may experience in their education. These children should also have opportunities to participate in other activities outside learning institutions to enhance their interaction with others.
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Leskey, J., & Waldron, N. L. (2011). Educational programs for elementary students with learning disabilities: Can they be Both effective and inclusive?. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 26(1), 48–57.
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Policy statement on inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs (2016). Infants & Young Children, 29(1), 3–24.
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United States Department of Education (2004). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. (P.L. 108-447). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.