Including students with severe disabilities

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by mouse7, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. mouse7

    mouse7 Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2008

    I am a 2nd grade teacher who is studying for my degree in special education. One of my assignments is to hear what regular education teachers have to say about including students into their classroom who have severe disabilities. Like what are the advantages and disadvantages of inclusion?
     
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  3. rchlkay

    rchlkay Companion

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    Jan 22, 2008

    Honestly, I find it very difficult to include students with severe disabilities. I think the most interesting part of your question though is what is considered severe. When I think of severe, I'm thinking about students who have multiple disabilities, physical and cognitive. I have worked with students who are in high school but function at approximately the level of a two year old and less. A high school spanish class is simply not the appropriate placement for a student like I described. Now if we're talking about an elementary aged child with say, Down Syndrome, I think it's certainly appropriate to have her included in the Gen Ed room. She may not understand everything or be able to learn the same things, but she should certainly be included for the social interaction and exposure of grade level concepts. I think the important thing to remember is that the placement has to be appropriate for both the child with a disability and for the other students. Sometime the gen ed room is simply not what's best for the child.
     
  4. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2008

    Are you looking for responses from sped or gen ed teachers? (I teach sped).

    Rchlkey is right--sometimes the gen ed room is not what's best for the child. The law states "free APPROPRIATE public education" as well as "least restrictive environment" and gen ed can be restrictive for some students.

    I teach students with severe disabilities--my preferred way to integrate is during specific times--art class, music class, a library period (elementary), assemblies. Then I set up student-specific activities: certain general ed students who I bring into the sub separate classroom (reverse integration) for a certain activity (reading, cooking, etc.) I've arranged activities with a whole general ed classroom--nature walks, curriculum-relevant project that both groups can be part of, a celebration. Or I'll integrate one student at a time into an appropriate segment of a gen ed class's day, with support and having discussed with the gen ed teacher prior how my student will participate.

    Inclusion and integration are a lot of work, and require real collaboration between gen ed and sped teachers. This also takes real time. But it has real benefits, if it is done thoughtfully and regularly.
     
  5. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Jan 22, 2008

    If it's the least restrictive environment then fine... but inclusion does not work for all. I've seen many not so great set ups being a sub.....
     
  6. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jan 22, 2008

    I think Rchlkay's comment is 100% correct. That gen. ed. environment isn't always what is best.
     
  7. mouse7

    mouse7 Rookie

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    how are parents with including students? do you feel that parents push more to include their children?
     
  8. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2008

    In my experience that varies greatly--some parents value the community and inclusion more, others value "stuff"--the equipment, attention, services, etc that just cannot be provided/utilized as well in the gen ed classroom. And sometimes you find parents who can see the balance and help achieve it.

    It's hard for parents--the first time one of my students (who has some pretty significant disabilities) was invited by a peer to a birthday party (and it was the peer's idea), her mother cried. (I cried. my OT cried. It was a BIG deal.) When your child is the one who is never invited places, etc, b/c of differences, that's hard. Some parents then want them included more to try and change that. Some parents are just so afraid their child will be made fun of, or get lost in the flow, that they want them separated more. Some parents fear the possible labeling of a "special class" more than the "dangers" of being in the mainstream.

    And we as teachers are left to try and address their fears, educate their children, and to the best of our ability provide the FAPE in the LRE. It helps if you have a supportive sped team to help figure out what that looks like, and it's different for different students.
     
  9. mouse7

    mouse7 Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2008

    thank you bcblue and everyone who has responded to my posting
     
  10. ecteacher

    ecteacher Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2008

    Depends on the nature of the disabilities. Right now I am doing my final internship in a high school life skills class with students who possess more profound disabilities; there is medical involvement daily with many students, etc. Most of the students I've worked with can read/write at a first grade level, some are a bit higher. There are a lot of issues with neurological impairments that would make the students become very frustrated in a general education classroom. This kind of situation is not recommended. Students deserve to have opportunities to be successful and to explore possible career/life options. In life skills the students are given activities that are stimulating and they have many opportunities to be successful within their curriculum; many of the skills are work related and relate to independent living skills, including transitional skills when the students graduate. Students do concentrate on basic academic skills which can be applied to real-life tasks.

    Some students with disabilities (such as cerebral palsy) might have ongoing medical concerns, but have no issues cognitively. In this case the student usually can be placed in gen ed classes with a paraprofessional who can take care of the student and provide assistance with writing or any other motor control related skills. I have one student who is doing this right now who has been very successful in general education classrooms.
     
  11. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jan 25, 2008

    I agree with the previous posters. I teach in a self-contained cross-categorical class that has kids with varying abilities.

    Our district is talking about "getting rid" of my type of classroom to go along with all of the "inclusion" stuff that people are hyped about. To be honest, like most have said, it is NOT for everyone. SOME kids need a very specific environment to be successful, and it's not always regular ed.

    I have a child who is severely autistic and wears a helmet. She bangs her head when she's unable to communicate what she wants us to know. She's in third grade, functioning on a second grade level with some gaps. Technically speaking (to our standards), she could easily be mainstreamed with that level of functioning. However, if she is not in a completely STRUCTURED environment, with every second of the day completely planned for her, as well as well defined areas (each of my kids have a work area that is boxed off by book cases so they are not distracted, etc) as well as receiving a special sensory diet (my room has a gross motor area and a visual sensory input room) --- she can really escalate behavior-wise. In my opinion, it is detrimental not only to her but the other students in regular ed to place her in an environment in which she will not be successful. She works on modified grade level work, behavior, social skills, vocational skills, communication skills, hygiene, etc. in my setting, most of which she'd be unable to get in a regular ed setting. The classroom is visually structured to meet the needs of moderate/severely disabled students (Boardmaker PECS symbols labeling items in the room, folders, notebooks clearly defined with work to do, finished pages, etc).

    Long story short - some kids just need special ed. It's not because we're "LEAVING THEM BEHIND" :mellow: It's because we're providing the services they need to be successful, independent, and able to function in our society some day.
     
  12. mouse7

    mouse7 Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2008

    I use a lot differentiated instruction in my classroom. What is the best teaching approach for severe to profound students in a gen ed room? Do teachers use differentiated instruction, individualized instruction or cooperative learning?
     
  13. mouse7

    mouse7 Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2008

    How do you feel about NCLB? What kind of pressure are you under to meet the 2014 deadline for NCLB when you have severe students in your classroom?
     

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