Integrating students with disabilities into the every day classroom is highly important. It gives students with and without disabilities the opportunity to be apart of an inclusive and accepting community. Students who have severe disabilities are those students who have a physical, emotional, mental problems which require extra educational, psychological or medical assistance beyond traditionally offered education. In past years, special needs students have been over looked or their needs neglected, so they have had to move to schools that cater specifically to their needs. Many parents and school administrators thought that these kids needed to be cared for in a special location, outside neighborhood schooling. Studies have shown and from personal experience, students with disabilities who are integrated into regular classrooms, benefit from the structured and well organized activities that all students can participate in. This is not only good for the students with disabilities, but those who do not have disabilities, learn about real world differences. They are exposed to proper interaction with someone with a severe disability.
This also gives nondisabled students the opportunity to not fear students with disabilities and likewise. There are times throughout the school day that may not be suitable for SSN students to be interacting with other students. There are times that are great for integration (with assistance from an aid) , such as gym, music, art, passing periods, library, etc. This gives students the ability to not only interact with nondisabled students but also learn what the day to day expectations are. Students with disabilities are often not given goals to accomplish or expectations. Students with disabilities should have a goal and expectations just as any other student, they just may need assistance along the way. If the student has a mild disability they should have the same expectations as nondisabled kids, again they just need assistance reaching those goals. This requires teachers who are willing to help SSN or mild needs students, if they are not accompanied by an aid. A huge thing teachers and aids need to be on the look out for is bullying amongst the students.
If a student with no disabilities was to pick on a disabled student that could be harmful on many levels. First off, it’s hurtful for anyone to be picked on. Second, if the disabled student feels negative vibes and is feeling bullied, the integration will no longer work. Students with disabilities usually pick up on negativity, and do not want to participate when they feel threatened. So it is imperative that teacher and aids be enforcing positive interactions amongst the students. Teachers need to help the aids in assisting the student. Many times teachers do not want the burden of a disabled student. It is extremely important that teachers are a helping hand in creating this environment. This means the classroom needs to be safe, positive and welcoming, for all kids. A good way to insure this is the “opendoorpolicy.”
That means that teachers invite any onlookers to come in and observe the integrated activities. It also means that they welcome onlookers to observe an instruction in progress and to interact with the disabled students. A lesson plan that should be put into place in every classroom, at a lower grade, should be information on disabilities. Students who are taught and have explained the integration process are more likely to be positively responsive. There are many ways that integrating student with severe disabilities or special needs can benefit all students. Students can learn proper interaction with one another. Students with disabilities can learn what their day to day process is, and what is expected of them. This can only work if teachers are responsive to needs to SSN or mild needs students, not only the student will benefit, this also helps the teacher grow. All schools should switch to an integrated curriculum, to insure equality amongst all students, disability or not.
Courtney from Study Moose
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