Question 5: Part 1: Inclusion

Best practices in instruction for students with severe disabilities are continually evolving. If you were asked to present to a school board best contemporary practices in instruction for students with severe disabilities what would you say? Present at least 5 themes, giving specific examples and supporting themes with research and the best practices literature.

In my opinion, the 5 best contemporary practices in instruction for students with severe disabilities are:
1) Inclusion
2) Self-determination
3) Collaborative teaming
4) Person-centered planning
5) Positive behavior support

1) Inclusion

Inclusion is a term used to describe the ideology that each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, should be educated in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (rather than having to keep up with the other students)(Council of Exceptional Children)

Inclusion is actually not a contemporary practice. For years and years, advocates for children with disabilities have been pushing for inclusion. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not specifically say inclusion, it says that children with disabilities should be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). For some kids, LRE would mean the general education classroom with normal kids. And for other kids, LRE might mean spending their school day in a combination of general education and special education classrooms. And for some other kids, LRE might mean the whole day in special education classrooms.

That sounds fine and dandy. Unfortunately, even in the “progressive” USA, more and more kids are not being included in general education classrooms. Many kids with disabilities spend their whole day in special education classroom with no social contact with normal kids. I’ve observed emotional support classroom for children with behavior problems, and these kids even spend their lunch-time and recess away from normal kids. This has come to a point where a group of parents in Pennsylvania has filed a class action lawsuit against the Dept of Education for violating the rights of children with disabilities to LRE. So, although inclusion is not new, it has not become a reality for many children with disabilities.

Inclusion is also an idealism that I’ll have to leave behind when I return to Malaysia.

Note: This is not my comprehensive answer. In my complete answer, I’ll have to cite many research articles [e.g., So & So (1998) noted that; Duh & Duh (2006) evaluated etc etc], get my facts right, and if possible cite articles that my professors wrote (for bonus points, maybe).

Stay tune for Part 2: Self-determination.

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