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Special Education: Mainstreaming Students Essay

In an ideal world all children would be born without disabilities. This idea is not possible though and sometimes children are born with special needs. The child could have only one disability or several. A disability can be mild and treated with medication or the disability can be severe and the child will need constant supervision. Once the child becomes of age to attend school, the issue of whether or not to place the child in a regular classroom or special needs classroom arises. This is when mainstreaming comes into place.

A wide range of research has been done on effects of mainstreaming on learning disabled children. The term “mainstreaming” has been used to describe the transition of special needs children into the regular classroom (Brown, 1997). Mainstreaming or inclusion in general is the practice of educating children with disabilities in a regular classroom alongside non-disabled students. Making them part of the students everyday life in the classroom (Allen, 2005). Children that are mainstreamed are not kept isolated from there typical developing peers.

Mainstreaming takes place in the regular classroom throughout the day depending on the skills of the child and how much they can handle at one point. What this is saying is that the student will receive any special education outside of the classroom to help them out more. Mainstreamed children will spend time in and out of the classroom depending on their own basic needs and wants. Mainstreaming is practiced in many schools across America (Gordon, 2007). In the past disabled children were always looked upon differently and placed into separate schools or buildings.

On November 29, 1975, the separation of regular students and special needs children ended, when President Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, known as Public Law 94-142. This law marked the beginning of mainstreaming. The law was amended in 1983 by Public Law 98-199, which required schools to develop programs for disabled children. The act was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1992 (Giuliano 31).

The child’s parents and the school district must together make the best decision for each child individually (Goldstein 12). A child who is already mainstreamed in preschool can be expected to continue in a mainstream environment. The professionals who worked with the child and the child’s parents are usually able to give a recommendation about the best placement for the child. The advantages of mainstreaming are that the child will be able to interact with his regular peer group. There are many disadvantages of children being placed in a special school separate from their peers.

It stigmatizes the child with a disability isolating them from being around normal developing peers unable then to pick up or imitate normal behaviors. It also makes the non-special schools less diverse without the special needs student present. There are also advantages of full time inclusion into an inclusive school. The students and their families are less isolated in their community and the child attends the same school as the peers in their neighborhood as well as brothers and or sisters that the special needs student may have.

The special needs student also is not seen as different generating self worth and higher self-esteem allowing them a sense of belonging and accepting to a peer group. The goal of inclusion is not to erase differences but to enable all students to belong in an educational community. The students with disabilities in a mainstreamed classroom can look up to their peers as role models of behaviors that are appropriate thus learning these behaviors in the long run, something that could not occur in a special school. Mainstreaming is an important topic in special education and the educational community.

With mainstreaming and inclusion comes diversity in our public schools and allows children to realize that everyone has different characteristics that make them unique and to embrace these differences and learn from them. Bibliography Allen, Mary K. , and Donald W. Crump. “Peer Acceptance, Teacher Preference, and Self-Appraisal of Social Status among Learning Disabled Students. ” Learning Disability Quarterly 3. 3 (2005). JSTOR. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Brown, Miranda. Least Restrictive Environment, Mainstreaming, and Inclusion. N. p. , July 1997.

Web. 5 Dec. 2012. <http://www. education. com/reference/article/mainstreaming-inclusion/>. Giuliano, Rachel. “Perceptions o f Advantages and Disadvantages Regarding Mainstreaming Children with Disabilities. ” (2010): 31. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. <http://www2. uwstout. edu/content/lib/thesis/2010/2010giulianor. pdf>. Gordon, R. (2011, December 23). The pros and cons of mainstreaming students with disabilities. In Helium. Retrieved December 5, 2012, from http://www. helium. com/items/2270455-the-pros-and-cons-of-mainstreaming-students-with-disabilities.


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