For children with learning disabilities, attending school and learning in general can prove to be a really big challenge. That is why public schools and other educational institutions are supposed to have special education services available for these kids. But is it really necessary for “special needs children” to be segregated or fully separated from the “normal” kids? Would it really help them achieve their full potential or would it alienate them from the general population?
One of the easiest ways to answer these questions, and many others about special education, is to look at the IEP of particular students. IEP or Individualized Education Programs are, in theory, what would practically dictate the whole academic future of a child with learning disabilities. It includes the specific needs of the children and the interventions and services that they would require in order for them to learn. further more, it should contain the explanation as to why a particular student cannot participate in regular classes with non-disabled children.
It’s easy to understand why some children, specially the ones with autism and other medical and physiological disabilities would not thrive in the normal school setting, but education, in my opinion should not just be about math, science, history and other academic subjects. Education should be holistic and it should include social interaction. Interaction with different types of people broadens the mind and makes individuals feel that they are a part of the greater population, not just a small class composed of “special kids” which can be very limiting and in an ironic twist, can further retard their development.
So, what can we do to make sure that learning disabled students can truly grow and reach their potential? A mixture of regular classes and supplemental instruction would be a good idea. Let them join the mainstream population and let them attend regular classes with regular students and if the teachers notice that they are lagging behind or are not doing well, make them attend supplemental classes that would target specific needs. This approach would probably demand more effort from the teachers and the students but, working more to compensate for our personal limitations is one of the most important attitudes that everyone should have in the first place so its a win win situation for everyone.