We would like to welcome our first guest blogger to The Social Express…
Marcela De Vivo
How Inclusion Can Benefit Special Needs Children Socially
Inclusion is a hot issue in education as of 2013 and it has been for years. While many don’t fully understand the idea of inclusion, it’s a topic that most parents of children with special needs are familiar with.
Inclusion is a simple principle that states children with special needs should take part in regular classes and activities – just like children their age without special needs. Some proponents of inclusion believe it should be based on ability – others believe all children with special needs should experience standard classroom education.
Inclusion involves more than just education for many parents and children with special needs, however. Regular classroom settings and participation in activities may be beneficial for helping children with special needs develop better social skills as well.
Children Learn By Example
Whether they learn certain behaviors from their family and parents, peers and schoolmates or teachers and authority figures, children learn how they’re supposed to behave based on examples that are set forth for them. For many children with special needs in special classes, the example set for them there on a daily basis is simply other children with special needs, therefore, they become accustomed to that restricted environment.
While special needs children can benefit from spending time with other special needs children, problems can arise when they spend all of their time with children with similar behavioral issues. Inclusion improves learning for both classified and unclassified students. After all, many children learn by example and they may begin to imitate behaviors that aren’t beneficial for them.
By being in a classroom with children that don’t have behavioral issues, some individuals with special needs may be able to develop better social skills through example. When children who have learning problems are included, students without disabilities tend to perform better academically. For example, a teacher is more inclined to break instruction into finer parts or repeat directions if he or she has a student in the room who is deaf, blind or has a developmental disability.
The issue of inclusion is passionately debated, but most advocates believe that attending regular classes and spending time in standard classroom settings, even if they don’t do it full-time, can help children with special needs better adapt to the rest of the world – a world that is predominantly made up of others that do not have the same needs.
Many advocates of full inclusion believe that special needs children who attend regular classes will be better equipped to handle the world in their teen and adult years due to their exposure to children without special needs. For many children with developmental disorders who may be working to overcome them, that means easier friendships and work situations later in life, and less overall shock when it comes to adapting to the world later on.
It Goes Both Ways
Children with special needs may be able to develop better social skills by attending regular classes and spending time with other children that do not have special needs, but the issue goes both ways. One thing that many advocates of inclusion tend to forget is that children who do not have special needs can also develop better social skills and empathy by being in classrooms with special needs children.
Both partial inclusion, sometimes referred to as mainstreaming, and full inclusion are becoming more and more common in schools throughout the United States, and even in foreign countries around the world.
While there are parents and educators on both sides of the fence, it’s difficult to ignore some of the statistics that state inclusion is beneficial for the educational and social development of special needs children.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles who covers various industries, including health, marketing, special needs law and more. As a mother of a child with special needs, she helps to educate other parents with special needs children about inclusion and special needs law.
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