A new study that followed 670 preschool-aged children in Ohio for a year is urging that integrating children with disabilities, who are enrolled in special education programs in school, into regular-ability classrooms may have a remarkable impact on the special needs' kids language skills over the course of a school year. Laura Justice, co-author of the study and professor of teaching and learning at The Ohio State University, says that the results should encourage schools who are considering inclusion models where children with disabilities are placed in the same classroom as peers who are developing normally. More from Science Daily:
"Students with disabilities are the ones who are affected most by the language skills of the other children in their class," Justice said.
"We found that children with disabilities get a big boost in their language scores over the course of a year when they can interact with other children who have good language skills."
In fact, after one year of preschool, children with disabilities had language skills comparable to children without disabilities when surrounded by highly skilled peers in their classroom.
"The biggest problem comes when we have a classroom of children with disabilities with no highly skilled peers among them," Justice said. "In that case, they have limited opportunity to improve their use of language."
Justice added that highly-skilled children's language abilities were not negatively affected by having the special needs children in their classrooms.
Image: Preschool letters and numbers, via Shutterstock