A seemingly “normal” teen in an Ecko t-shirt and blue jeans sits next to a teen about his age in a wheelchair. It may not be what the typical high school classroom offers because segregation of kids with and without disabilities has been a common practice. The thought process being that the special needs kids have different needs than those without special needs.
Educational research, however, may be changing the makeup of the typical American classroom.
While integrating the different needs of the children can be complex for the teacher, with a little education and proper planning, it is possible to accomplish. The primary benefit of mixing students of all types in a classroom is the social interaction it brings. It helps to fuse the classroom society together rather than draw a line between the two groups. A teenager, for example, is a teenager whether he is typical or has a slight learning disorder, is in a wheelchair or walks with a limp.
Socialization is a part of being human and integrating classrooms, and according to educational research, shows that the integration is socially effective. But what about the learning side of the equation? After all, the students are in the classroom to learn. On the level of education, research shows that children with special needs learn more and better in regular schools that the institutions they were typically sent to in order to cater to their special needs. Researchers and experts say this is because the kids receive more stimulation from interacting with their peers rather than being separated because of their disability.
Integrating the children also helps form leadership and mentoring roles. All of the students learn from each other when they have roles models to follow. Children without disabilities also learn that the children with disabilities truly aren’t that different from them, so it helps to break down the stigma associated with disabilities.