School Debate: Does 'Inclusion' for Asperger's Kids Hurt Other Students?

An article in the Pensacola News Journal highlights a national debate facing schools:  how much can children with Asperger syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD) be fully integrated into regular classrooms without making learning difficult for students without the disability?

Children with Asperger's, as opposed to some other forms of ASD, are often quite intelligent and able to handle the schoolwork without incident.  But they do have behavioral problems, ranging from repetitive behaviors to problems socializing to sensitivity to things like noises or lights.  These issues can take up a lot of a teacher's time, which heightens the debate.

Changes at the state level in how classes are categorized will put more special education students into more regular classrooms than ever before.

Many teachers and parents worry that all children — particularly students who just get by in their classes — may not get the attention they need in an inclusion classroom, because students with disabilities — students like [13-year-old] Dylan [Harris] — need extra attention.

"I think it's a fair concern," [Regina] Harris [Dylan's mother] said. "General (education) teachers typically aren't trained very much to work with children with behavior issues. That's opening a can of worms."

Image: Students on a school bus, via Shutterstock.

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