Reply To: Inclusion class segregates special ed students

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MJ1981
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I don’t know if I really have an answer to this; but I can share my own experience with how I was taught. I have ADD and several other diagnosed learning disabilities and in my education I think I experienced a wide range of teaching methods.

I spent most of elementary school in New Hampshire, in the 1980’s and was taught in what they called a “fully inclusive class with co-teaching.” Basically I was a regular mainstreamed student for the majority of the day, I was in a regular class, taught by the mainstream teacher, but for certain subjects that I struggled with the most or needed additional support in I was brought into a separate environment for one on one assistance, or in some cases a small group of us were brought out for personalized support. This to me was actually a good thing because it allowed me to get the one on one help I absolutely needed. Keep in mind that for some kids with ADD, getting personalized instruction or one on one help is a gold mine of helpfulness and can often be the thing that helps them get through the day. Even though I was used to the mainstream class and felt at home there, sometimes I needed the smaller classroom setting to decompress and focus on the areas I was most struggling with. It also gave everybody else in the class a chance to sort of have a “break” as you must keep in mind that kids with ADD as lovely as we are can be a lot to handle all day and if we’re struggling we oftentimes have outbursts that can be disruptive. I know if I was struggling, everybody knew it and at times I made everybody suffer because of it.

As I got into middle school we moved to Rhode Island and I was put into a self-contained class, where I was with only four or five other special needs kids for all my classes (and we had only 1-2 special ed teachers all day), with the exception of electives like gym and music, etc. I actually found this environment LESS helpful than being in a mainstreamed class. This class had kids of many different levels in one room and I found that it made learning difficult because the teacher had to find a way to teach lessons that kids at very different levels could try to understand. It was nearly impossible trying to tailor a lesson so that sixth graders, eight graders and so on could all get the lessons. Eventually within a year or two I breezed through the curriculum of the self-contained class which was woefully out of date and they had no choice but to mainstream me. At this point is where things got very difficult for me, because the mainstreamed class was taught at grade level, but the special ed class was not so there was a bit of a gap between the two and I had a lot of catching up to do, with almost no support. It was jarring, scary and not well planned. I had a couple resource periods each week, but that wasn’t enough and the social aspect was scary as well.

So my advice is maybe talk to your kids and ask them how they feel about school, if they like the environment, are they feeling comfortable, you might learn that they have a lot of feelings or ideas you didn’t know about. Being included is important, but it’s possible that they enjoy being brought out for separate instruction sometimes. Best of luck. Not sure if any of this is helpful at all, I realize every kid is different and the standards may be different than when I was in school.