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Disabled Diva: Inclusion is a Beautiful Thing

my thoughts on mainstreaming disabled children

Believe it or not, there are still people in the world, who think that disabled children should not be mainstreamed.  They think that having disabled children in class, with their able-bodied peers, is a distraction.  That teaching a disabled child takes too much of a teacher's time.   Time that should be spent teaching an able-bodied child. 

What about what a disabled child can add to the classroom? Children can learn compassion, acceptance and the importance of helping one another when a child with a disability attends class with them.  If children have a disabled child in class with them, they will grow up with the awareness that a person with a disability is just like they are. 

l loved being a Brownie/Girl Scout.   The experience was one of the happiest times of my childhood.  The Brownie  troop leader was a member of my church.  The week before I attended my first meeting, the troop leader talked to the girls about me.  I don't know what she told them,  all I know is they accepted me and always found a way for me to be a part of whatever they were doing.  The girls didn't see my disability.  They just accepted me as their friend. 

I'm sure you have heard about the high school student, with Down's Syndrome, who was  voted homecoming queen by her classmates this year.    The fact that able-bodied students elected a young woman with a disability to be homecoming queen is awesome!  The students voted for her not because she was disabled, but because of the kind of person she  is. The students saw a person first, not her disability.  I hope we see more acts like this in the future. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended a public school for the physically disabled for thirteen years.  I would have given anything had mainstreaming been an option back then.  Had I been mainstreamed,  I would have developed better social skills.  My grade school education was adequate,  My high school education left me unprepared for college.  After my freshman year, the high school teacher left.  The teacher who taught Spanish, Shakespeare and for whom writing a term paper was a requirement to graduate,  was replaced by teachers who only taught the basics. They did nothing to prepare anyone for college.  I understand why.  When you have students at all different levels of intellectual ability together, it would be difficult to meet all of their  needs effectively.  I missed out on a lot, not only socially, but academically as well. The only positive thing about my high school years was that, in my senior year, I was able to take two courses at a community college in preparation for college that fall.

I often wonder what my educational experience would have been like if I had been given the opportunity to be mainstreamed.  Would being mainstreamed have made me a different person?  I'll never know how it might have changed me.

For anyone who thinks a child with a disability is a distraction in the classroom and should not be mainstreamed, remember the qualities I spoke about earlier.  Aren't those qualities we want all children  to have?  If you think about what an able-bodied child can learn from a disabled child, they are not a distraction in the classroom at all.  They will only enhance another child's educational experience.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Momof3 November 13, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Lets be clear, are we talking about lack of physical ability or mental capacity? Classrooms are filled with differentiated capabilities. To add a child into the mix of an already diverse population, who, yes, is a distraction, but more importantly, is simply not capable of reaching any realistic expectation social or academically, is not beneficial to any in that classroom. Academics are ability based and to stretch an already overwhelmed teacher and ask for their best for each student is like asking them to perform surgery on 20 bodies at once. In contrast to Rockwoods "mainstreaming" philosophy, children that test into the CCL program our offered specialized assistance only 1 day out of 5. ALL children learn differently, and develop certain characteristics best managed in a setting of the best trained educators, and like minded peers. Lastly, I am certainly not indicating that social integration of all children should be the goal, but at what cost to the children who aren't the Homecoming Queen? Or the ones who get voted to Homecoming court as a prank as happened here in Pacific?
Joanne Grana November 14, 2012 at 04:50 AM
i didn't mean to anger anyone with my post. I would not want any child in a classroom who was disruptive. if a child is physically disabled, but has a good mind, i feel they should have the opportunity to be taught with their able-bodied peers. it depends on the degree of physical or mental impairment. in my case, had the opportunity been available to me, it would have helped me tremendously. as far`as the homecoming incident in pacific, that was horrendous and i can only imagine the devastating affect it had on the child involved. i apreciate your thoughts and hope youwill continue to read my blog ...

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