Saturday, October 15, 2011

Educating Special Needs Children in Mainstream Schools

These days finding a special needs child in a mainstream school would be like finding an "Enter" key on a keyboard.

The concept of institutionalised care and education is almost a thing of the past. Though some circles still feel special needs kids and adults do not have a place in mainstream society, thankfully these groups are diminishing as the decades roll on.

The placement of Special needs kids in mainstream school has many benefits to the special needs child but also the school community as a whole. Mainstream school kids get to know the disabled child for the person inside the body, not the outward disability. This goes a long way to improving social acceptance of the special needs kids both now as a child in school and later as an adult in the community.

As a parent of a disabled child I often liken the use of Special School facilities to taking a bath without any water or taking a flight in a plane without wings.

Just like we need water to take a bath we also need a "normal" social setting to educate special needs kids about society and interacting in it. The use of Special Education facilities is like taking a mainstream school student to the desert to teach them to swim.

I should pause to explain that this article is written out of frustration due to a long run battle for our child to be accepted at a mainstream school on a permanent basis. The closest we have ever been able to get was 4 days at a mainstream school and 1 day at special education - with this likely to expand each year until she was a permanent pupil at the special education school.

As parents we are in no way against the Specialised Education our daughter requires. We do however, feel this Extra support could and should be made available to her at a mainstream school. She should have the ability to have lunch with her siblings, participate in Lunchtime activities with mainstream kids, Attend sporting events - whether participating or cheering - and generally socialise with her age group peers.

The concept of splitting Education between 2 facilities due to a disability is like splitting a child's world in half. Its saying "Its ok to be called 'normal' a couple of days a week and 'disabled' for the rest of the week".

The teachers call it "getting the best of both worlds". Unfortunately we don't live in 2 worlds. We live in one world and we should all be accepted as equal within it regardless of race, colour, ability, disability or orientation.