The principle of “normalization” grants people with disabilities the right to learn and live in environments as close to normal as possible (Thomas and Woods 65). The major policy in most countries has been integrating students with disabilities to be a part of regular classrooms wherever possible; however, specialized segregated facilities are an alternative for those children who have severe disabilities. In the quest for inclusion, teachers sometimes encounter tension between student’s safety and concern for normalization, especially with account for the risk of medical complications.
The term “medically fragile children” represents children with multiple disabilities caused by a degenerative disease or a chronic disease, abuse, or neglect who are in a stable condition, but reliant on life-sustaining medications, equipment, or treatments to undertake daily activities. Schooling of children with special needs has widened responsibilities of school nurses and teachers as they struggle to balance obligations concerning students and safety (Thomas and Woods 66). Since every child with fragile health is unique, education programs ought to be individualized.
The risk of medical complications constitutes a core part to be evaluated when sending to school children and youth who are medically fragile. Student’s needs should always take a priority; as such, the decision to send medically fragile children to school should be dictated by a child’s need rather than convenience. A significant factor in making the decision relates to assessing whether the school environment poses the “least risk” to medical complications. As such, students with disabilities qualify for a restrictive placement option that does not antagonize student’s physical security at the expense of education and normalization. Schools should place emphasis on balancing safety and inclusion (Thomas and Woods 65). Although, normalization is crucial, placing students with disabilities within general education settings may not necessarily be in the student’s best interests, especially when the classroom setup is ill-suited to satisfy the student’s needs.
Intellectual disabilities represent a considerably sub-average overall intellectual functioning that manifests concurrently with deficits within adaptive behavior, which negatively impacts educational performance and occurs throughout the developmental period. Moderate intellectual disability negatively affects intellectual functioning, as well as adaptive behavior, which in turn limits individual’s effectiveness in satisfying standards of maturation, school performance, personal freedom, and social responsibility. Social skills such as communication skills, support skills, social cognition skills, communication skills, and emotional skills should supersede academics since they are central for independence in daily living (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, and Anastasiow 107).
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Implementation of policy concerning inclusion of students with disabilities within general education settings has enhanced the percentage of students with disabilities in the US public schools. Personally, I think that socialization should precede academics for students with moderate cognitive disabilities. Inclusion avails a chance for students with moderate cognitive disabilities to build social skills for establishing relationships with peers. Students with moderate cognitive disabilities enjoy a strong opportunity to build social competence and friendships. Children with intellectual disability usually learn and develop cognitively at a considerably slow rate compared to other children of the same age. Children usually manifest significant deficits within their cognitive skills, which undermine their capability to reason and think, as well as develop socialization, language, and skills of independence (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, and Anastasiow 106). For instance, towards the end of their formal skills, older adolescents with a mild intellectual disability may increase social skills and academic analogous to that of age of 6 or 7 compared to those with a moderate intellectual disability who may only have educational and social skills analogous to those of children aged 2 or 3.
Research findings have largely informed the move to integrate students manifesting disabilities into the mainstream classroom on the comparative efficacy of special education settings and the need to support students with disabilities to get education and live their lives. Inclusive education guarantees continual access to a broader curriculum, richness of real-life experiences, problem-solving opportunities, and increased social networks. Organizations and individuals who back full inclusion assert that all students, irrespective of the severity of disability, ought to be educated in a general education classroom. Proponents of full inclusion cite social benefits (socialization) derived from full inclusion as an adequate reason to place students with moderate cognitive disabilities in the general education classroom (Alquraini and Gut 2).
Conventionally, students with special educational needs are segregated into separate learning environments. However, analysts and educators have started to question effectiveness of self-contained classrooms. Although placement within self-contained classrooms avail numerous benefits for children with special needs, interaction of children with their peers is equally important. Students with special education needs ought to be included within mainstream schools so as to optimize their learning experiences.
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Research on placement reveals that education, rather than setting, is the key to the attainment of success as demonstrated by students’ outcomes. Moreover, case-by-case approaches are best-placed to inform decisions on student placement and education (Vianello and Lanfranchi 75). Personally, I would select a school in which special education students are primarily involved in the general classroom most of the time. Research has shown that students with mild disabilities who are included within general classrooms report enhanced gains compared to those in self-contained classrooms or pull-out programs (Alquraini and Gut 3). Children from integrated schools usually report better growth in the management of their own behavior in social situations, while children from segregated schools mainly regress within each of conventional skill domains and social competences.
The term learning disability (LD) does not delineate a single condition, but rather encompasses a wide range of disabilities within any of the areas pertaining to language, reading, and mathematics. Learning disabilities represent an umbrella term for a broad variety of learning problems. One critical element in the definition of LD relates to its exclusion since learning disabilities cannot be attributed essentially to emotional disturbance, mental retardation, cultural differences, or disadvantage. Separate forms of learning disabilities often co-occur with being accompanied by social skill deficits and behavioral disorders or emotional disorders. The notion of LD focuses on the view of a discrepancy between child’s educational attainments coupled with his or her apparent capacity to learn.
Learning disability occurs when an individual’s brain development is influenced either prior to birth, during birth, or during early childhood. The other hypothesis on the case of LD relates to the exposure of children to toxins in their environment. Evidently, there is no different neurological cause, which can be highlighted as the culprit (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, and Anastasiow 3). Moreover, multiple other disorders such as the ADHD, brain injury, anxiety, or depression may ape symptoms of LD. Brain is a very elaborate organ; indeed, learning is a very intricate process and no two individuals with LD manifest the same deficits and strengths, which renders it extremely difficult to isolate the cause of learning disabilities. One of the reasons why it is difficult to identify causes of learning disabilities emanates from the fact that learning disabilities appear to be very different from one child to another. It is difficult to spotlight learning disabilities owing to the broad range of variations and lack of a single symptom or profile, which one can cite as a proof of LD. Nevertheless, some of the warning signs are highly common at different ages.
Articulation represents movement of articulators and mouth muscles so as to produce a sound of speech. Largely, speech-language pathologists are unaware of the source of an articulation disorder. However, it is evident that speech errors emanate from neurological disorders, genetic syndromes, developmental disorders, illnesses, and hearing loss. Children with articulation disorders have been known to delete sounds, substitute sounds, distort sounds, or add sounds. Children establish their ability to generate speech sounds at different rates (Wong and Butler 28). Individual sounds are usually developed at a certain age and when different sounds fail to improve by the said age, the child may be having articulation delay or disorder. Delay manifests when the child develops speech skills, but lags time-wise.
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Some of the criteria that one can exploit when deciding whether to ask for a referral to a speech-language pathologist include lack of double syllable bubble by the end of the year. The other criteria relate to persistent drooling at 18 months, failure of the child to construct 2-3 word sentences by two and half years, and unintelligible speech even after four years. The parent or teacher should worry about child’s articulation if the child is unable to say the sound that complies with his/her age requirements, fails to state the sound correctly, or is unable to say the sound as directed.
Languages, apart from English, which are spoken by children outside school, are referred to as home languages. Children are not required to discard the culture and language of the home as they enter the school threshold. Home language is the key since it provides support for the understanding of concepts and knowledge, improves text comprehension, and reinforces development of learning and thinking skills. Teachers must possess understanding of linguistics so as not to assume that there is something wrong with students whose means of utilizing language do not satisfy their expectations (Reid and Lienemann 8). Indeed, teachers who fail to appreciate validity of other means of speaking may frustrate their students’ confidence, especially about communicative capabilities.
Every child’s home language mirrors his or her culture, identity, and family background. Competence in home language can help the child to learn school language more easily. Largely, children learn to adapt to both home and school language, whereby children learn to utilize language that they hear. For the majority of children whose home language is not English or Standard English, learning can be a challenge. In a similar way to other languages, English manifests dialects linked to geographical regions and social classes that are differentiated by differences in the sound system, lexicon, and grammar. Dialect differences have been shown to impact learning and literacy development. The teacher must demonstrate to the parent that acquisition of “school” language is critical to the educational development of the student. Schools must avail children who speak various vernacular varieties of English the backing they require so as to master the English demanded by educational development, as well as needed for jobs after school.
Special education inclusion remains a controversial concept; for conventional special educators, inclusion makes up a wanton destruction of all that that is good, while for others it is seen as discriminatory and coercive (Wang 154). One of the prominent concerns held by parents relates to the protection of support services, especially about the level to which the child’s individual education plan responds to the needs of the child. The arguments cited against inclusion claim that there are minimal data available on academic gains to justify inclusion. Demanding inclusion of all students with disabilities within the mainstream classroom, irrespective of their ability to function in those settings, can be regarded as unrealistic and counterproductive.
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Parents and professional organizations have instituted an argument against inclusion or full inclusion owing to the fear that inclusion leaves classroom teachers with little resources, training, and related supports critical to teaching students with disabilities (Elkins, van Kraayenoord, and Jobling 122). As a result, disabled students are denied appropriate specialized care and attention, while regular student’s education remains disrupted. Some parents raise concerns that inclusion amounts to monopolizing an excessive amount of time and resources and in some instances generating violent classroom environments (Vianello and Lanfranchi 76). Other concerns raised against inclusion emanate from the suspicion about motives of school administrators rooting for inclusion, which lies in a budgetary (cost-saving) measure rather than genuine concern about the students’ best interests.
Inclusion also poses the threat of loss of advocacy. Furthermore, education programming within a regular classroom setting may be entirely unsuitable for certain students with disabilities (Connor and Ferri 63). Moreover, since each student with a learning disability manifests different needs, individualized education placement and plan ought to be properly structured to satisfy different needs and strengths. As such, the regular classroom may be inappropriate since necessary alternative teaching strategies, instructional environments, and materials may be absent (Gates and Atherton 105).
Behavioral or emotional disorders are complex to define; in the bulk of cases, the use of the term is subjective. Emotional or behavioral disorders fall into three broad groups: internalizing behaviors, externalizing behaviors, and low-incidence disorders (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, and Anastasiow 212). Students with behavioral and emotional disorders manifest severe and persistent difficulties, which can be explained by a psychiatric diagnosis. Controversy still exists among those examining children with behavioral disorders concerning the method and practice of diagnosis. Some researchers stipulate that close to all emotional and behavioral disorders emanate from differences within the chemical makeup of the brain. Others researchers, on the other hand, stipulate that a bulk of psychiatric disorders emanates from environmental factors, including neglect, diet, abuse, and traumatic experiences (Kendell 110).
Students who manifest behavioral or emotional disorders can display broadly different forms of behavior such as internalized behavior like verbal outbursts. Other prominent behaviors and features include aggression, hyperactivity, and learning difficulties. Children who manifest emotional or behavioral disorders are typified primarily by behavior that goes beyond the norms of age and culture by internalizing and externalizing. Both patterns of abnormal behavior have adverse impacts on social relationships and academic achievement (Worth 12).
Classifying and defining emotional and behavioral disorders such as conduct disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders, emotional disturbances, and personality disorders remain a challenging task. For instance, the 4th edition of the DSM details 18 core categorization areas encompassing over 200 distinct disorders. The use of the term ‘emotional or behavioral disorders’ presents some limitations, which makes it crucial to utilize a term that is highly inclusive when dealing with children manifesting emotional and behavioral problems. There is little distinction between behavioral and emotional disorders, which renders it difficult to concisely come up with an inclusive term in practice. The terms applied cannot be defined and are not exhaustive, which means that they qualify for general guidance rather than being considered as complete definitions.
Autism spectrum disorder represents a collection of disorders detailed under pervasive developmental disorders. Although high schools, colleges, and universities have enhanced the accessibility of education to students who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD), very little effort has been placed on adapting workplaces for employees with ASDs (Gates and Atherton 399). Proponents for neurodiversity or those seeking for enhanced inclusiveness of individuals with neurological conditions such as ASDs stipulate that the society would gain from opening workplaces to people with ASDs. Indeed, the society eliminates obstacles and creates workplaces where employees with ASDs can prosper.
Employees who have ASD are highly likely to be viewed by co-workers as “quirky” or “different,” especially because they might avoid eye contact, be too inquisitive, or talk too loudly. As such, employees with ASD appear as socially awkward and one may view them as rude. The inclination to say the “wrong thing” may sometimes qualify as insensitive or insensible to feelings of other people. People with ASD may focus on eccentric and circumscribed topics that make others lose interest (Kaffemaniene and Jureviciene 216). Flexibility is usually not their strength since it may elicit anxiety rendering it difficult for them to perform transition from one thought or activity to another. As such, colleagues may view them as intense since they struggle with a high degree of stress (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, and Anastasiow 146).
People with ASD also have different gifts such high concentration, strange attention to details, and capability to categorize and retain a significant amount of information on topics of interest. Although, the strengths associated with ADS may obscure the disability, opening the workplace for those with ASD presents an opportunity for the society to tap sometimes remarkable talents, while simultaneously minimizing costs incurred by taxpayers and families when caring for people with ASD. Structuring workplaces that embrace neurodiversity demands that the society moves out of its comfort zone. The society needs to be tolerant and accept awkward behaviors and social slip-ups associated with people with ASDs. Employers must make sensible accommodations to allow employees with ASDs to carry out their work in line with legal protections guaranteed under the Disabilities Act.
Educators and motivation theorists possess different interpretations of causes of motivation problems. Whatever the source of motivation problems, student’s motivation challenges manifest themselves in their behavior. Learning problems essentially cause motivational problems. This observation has huge implications about how teachers treat individual students, especially when helping students maintain the joy of learning despite frustrations and struggles presented by learning problems (Hewitt 12). The stress associated with learning problems has a prominent impact on motivation, especially in terms of structuring instructional programs to maximize students’ motivation (Reid and Lienemann 6). A motivated student is one actively involved in the learning process. In most cases, students experiencing motivation problems may manifest problems with learning.
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Babies usually have an intrinsic drive to learn and the challenge of a parent and teacher lies in offsetting low esteem and frustrations that emanate from learning struggles. The purpose centers on finding activities or subjects in which students with learning disabilities are self-motivated to learn, appreciate the value of what they learn, and enjoy the process of learning. In most cases, students with learning disabilities may seem unmotivated, but the majority of students are highly motivated to prevent failure. The bulk of research on motivation of children with learning disabilities reveals that core reasons why children withdraw mentally from school stem from a fear of failure or frustration coming from inconsistent performance. Motivation problems may also arise from the absence of understanding concerning schoolwork, anger, emotional challenges, or desire for attention. The behavior associated with low motivation may encompass quitting, being impulsive, and clowning for attention.
Learning disabilities do not have a single cause; indeed, multiple factors have been linked to learning disabilities (Gates and Atherton 419). Learning disabilities such as Asperger Syndrome are usually more common among males compared to females owing to genetic differences between males and females. Largely, a high prevalence of learning disabilities among males derives from biological vulnerability. A high prevalence of learning disabilities among males could also be possibly explained by the fact that the criteria applied to diagnose learning disabilities such as autism are drawn from characteristics of male behavior. Moreover, since boys usually mature more slowly than girls, they encounter difficulties in adapting to the school environment, which may lead to increased levels of referral for special education (referral bias). However, the concise prevalence of learning disabilities remains unknown owing to the lack of standard definition of learning disabilities and the lack of objective diagnostic criteria.
Research on why the majority of disabilities are highly prevalent among males compared to females have unearthed nine X chromosomes (known to influence males) associated with learning disabilities (Gates and Atherton 420). The outcomes can play a significant role in improving provision of counseling and diagnostics for those families impacted by learning disabilities. Although treatment options for learning disabilities remain largely underdeveloped, the genetic connection to the condition can be a source of support for families affected, especially when informing about reproductive choices.
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