Inclusive Education for Students with Special Needs

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For quite a long time, children who have various special needs have been hindered from enjoying right to education as a result of a lack of effective strategies, which guarantee that every child should be accorded an equal opportunity to education with the others irrespective of one’s background or physical attributes. For instance, nations from all over the globe formulated a policy, which is commonly referred to as the World Declaration on Education for All (Peters 2004, p.5). The regulation stipulates that each child should have access to an educational opportunity that is designed to meet his/her educational requirements. In June 1994, at the World Conference on Special Needs Education, approximately 25 international organizations and 92 governments endorsed the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action that dictated that learning institutions should come up with child-centered techniques that are aimed at catering for the interests of the children who suffer from various disabilities (Peters 2004, p.5). The major fundamental principle behind the establishment of the inclusive schools is to give the children an opportunity to learn together despite their differences. Therefore, the diverse schools must be in a position to address the educational needs of the learners and ensure that each gets high-quality education at all times. Nevertheless, it would be paramount to note that there exists a range of challenges that limit the potential of the educators to cater for the health welfare of the children with special needs effectively. For example, in some schools, there lacks adequate teaching materials, which would be used to enhance the children with disabilities get a comprehensive idea of the major concepts taught in a given lesson. Some of the strategies that could be used to incorporate such learners in the mainstream education include; training the educators on how to handle learners with disabilities, passage of laws that outlaw the discrimination of children with special needs in institutions of learning, formulation of an inclusive educational curriculum, and encouraging the provision of peer support to the affected learners.

CRITICAL REFLECTION 1: Formulation of Laws That Bar the Discrimination of the Learners with Special Needs in School

The first step towards the enhancement of the incoporation of students with sdisabilitiesin mainstream classes should be the formulation of regulations that outlaw the discrimination of such learners in educational institutions (Mugambi 2017, p.95). As aforementioned, nations from all over the world have formulated rules that are aimed at enhancing the children with special needs get access to education. Unfortunately, the anticipated benefits have not been achieved due to the lack of regulations that discourage the separation of students while learning. As a result, in most institutions of learning, the studentswith disabilities learn in special classes, which may not only minimize their chances of interacting with other students but also make them have low self-esteem. To overcome such adverse effects, it would be rational for the policymakers to enact rules that would be geared towards encouraging cooperative learning (Maciver, Hunter, Adamson, Grayson, Forsyth and McLeod 2018, p.1714). One of the most effective strategies of enhancing the achievement of this goal is by encouraging peer assessment, a case whereby the students would be given the liberty to give out their opinions about the performance of their colleagues. The main advantage of using this strategy is to facilitate the interaction of the students, which would play an integral role in boosting the level of self-esteem of the students with disabilities. In such a case, they – the physically challenged learners- would also be free to raise questions or seek for clarifications on areas they may not comprehend with ease. Ultimately, they will be in a position to compete actively with their colleagues, which would be demonstrated by their improvement in academic performance. Besides, cooperative learning would result in a case whereby the student’s with disabilities can learn with ease as they will be free to imitate some of the actions of their, more so in art lessons.

CRITICAL REFLECTION 2: Training the Educators on How to Handle Learners with Disabilities

One of the main factors that have been limiting the inclusion of the students who suffer from disabilities in the mainstream classes is the lack of experience among the teachers on how to handle such learners. For example, it would be worth noting that a significant number of the teachers do not have adequate knowledge on how to communicate using sign language, thus, they would be incapable of teaching the dumb students. Puchalik is of the opinion that the educators first access their potential on how prepared they are to cater for the interests of the students with disabilities before deciding on whether they should accommodate them – the physically challenged learners – in the mainstream classes (Puchalik 2016, p.7). Teachers who have undergone training on special needs programs have the required expertise and skills on how to handle the children with disabilities, thus, there is a high probability that they would support the inclusion of the disabled learners in the usual classrooms. Hence, it would be rational to organize for educational seminars and conferences whose main objective would be to equip the teachers with knowledge on how to make sure that they fulfill the educational desires of the learners with disabilities (Ahsan and Mullick 2013, p.158). As noted above, whenever the educators feel that they would not be capable of catering for the welfare of the disabled learners, then they would have a high probability of opposing the inclusion of the students in the classes. Additionally, the teachers should be given access to adequate resources – such as learning equipment and support staff – that would boost their potential to handle the disabled students (Lai and Zhang 2013, p.822). For instance, a teacher may seek the service of a language interpreter to enhance him/her have a comprehensive understanding of what a respective student might be saying. Such a strategy makes the educators feel confident that they would be in a position to enhance the students with disabilities perform better in their academics.

CRITICAL REFLECTION 3: Encouraging the Provision of Peer Support to the Students with Disabilities

In some cases, the learners with disabilities will have to rely on assistance from their schoolmates to accomplish some of the tasks in the classroom. The rationale behind this conviction is based on the fact that the students who suffer from disabilities would be incapable of executing some of their tasks – such as arranging the books or desks or even rubbing the blackboard – on their own. Therefore, teachers should encourage their students to offer assistance to their colleagues who might be suffering from any form of disability at all times (McMillan 2008, p.32). An example of a technique that can be applied in this case is the ability grouping intervention measures, a case whereby the students with disabilities are mixed up with the ones who do not suffer from any form of disability (Majoko 2016, p.1434). However, in cases whereby the disabled children do not get any support from their classmates, it would be relatively hard for the teacher to ensure that he/she has covered the main concepts in a given unit as anticipated. The main cause for this occurrence would be the fact that the children with disabilities will lag behind in most of the times, which also limits their potential to comprehend some of the major ideas taught in a given lesson. Hence, one of the disciplines that should be taught in schools is the concept of brotherhood, which would be geared towards ensuring that the students would always be willing to offer assistance to their peers whenever a need arises. Whenever the disabled children get any support they would require from their colleagues; they would be in a position to learn at the same pace with them – classmates. As a result, teachers would second the incorporation of the learners with disabilities in the mainstream classes as they would be capable of covering the syllabus with ease.

CRITICAL REFLECTION 4: Formulation of an All-Inclusive Curriculum

It would also be important to effect some changes in the current educational system to make it suit the interests of the students with disabilities. As aforementioned, the disabled learners have been learning in specialized classes, which denotes that their curriculum would be relatively different from the one used in mainstream schools. It is paramount to note that the curriculum determines the kind of things the students learn, hence, the incorporation of the students with special needs in mainstream classes can only be achieved through the introduction of effective reforms into the current curriculum (Opertti and Brady 2011, p.462). For instance, the curriculum used in the usual schools is more inclined towards facilitating the learners get more theoretical knowledge on the various issues taught throughout the syllabus. However, the students with special needs might be capable of understanding the main ideas in a given topic if the teacher makes use of art objects like shapes or other drawings. Therefore, the new curriculum should have an art-based perception as a strategy for enhancing the understanding of the students with disabilities. Opertti and Belalcazar argue that such a curriculum would be student-centered, thus, it is one of the most effective strategies of promoting active learning among all the learners irrespective of their differences (Opertti and Belalcazar 2008, p.128). Since the marks achieved in examinations determine the overall performance of the students, it would also be important to change the exam system to enhance the inclusion of all the students. In such a case, the assessment of the students should not only be based on their performance in theoretical areas but also artistic and co-curricular fields. As mentioned earlier, the students with disabilities might be capable of understanding some of the concepts taught better through the interpretation of the artistic – objects – used, which implies that there is a high probability that they would end up failing in a test if the examiner tests the theoretical ideas only. 



The social, emotional, and mental health (SEHM) difficulties may be defined as various challenges – whether emotional or social – that some children may experience, which leads to some far-reaching effects on their welfare. For example, a child who might be experiencing the SEHM difficulties may depict signs of social withdrawal, which also implies that they might be incapable of forming long-lasting relationships (Fink, Patalay, Sharpe, Holley, Deighton and Wolpert 2015, p.503). Besides, they may become relatively hyperactive or disruptive during lessons, which might also adversely affect their academic performance. Such behaviors are caused by a range of mental issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. Other notable signs of SEHM issues include emotional outbursts, mood swings, and challenges in concentrating in the activities one might be engaged in. Some of the common SEHM difficulties children may exhibit in classrooms include ADHD, attachment disorder, and attention deficit disorder. As a strategy of illustrating the cause of SEHM issues, various theoretical explanations have been put forward key among them being child-centered theories – for instance, Erickson’s model on stages of psychosocial development -and family-centered theorems such as the parent x child model of socialization.

Common SEHM Difficulties Children May Exhibit In the Classroom

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric ailment, which makes it relatively impossible for an individual to pay attention or has an increased hyperactivity-impulsivity that affects their development (Wilens and Spencer 2010, p.1). The concept of inattention depicts that one experiences challenges in maintaining focus and that such behavior is not influenced by lack of comprehension. Hyperactivity implies that one engages in continuous activities like movements, talking, or fidgeting, which makes him/her quite restless (Thapar, Cooper, Jefferies and Stergiakouli 2011, p.260). On the other hand, impulsivity denotes that the affected individual makes hasty decisions without having thought about the effects of such actions. Among students, the most common sign of ADHD is hyperactivity. Additionally, the learners might find it difficult to pay attention in various tasks, hence, he/she might end up losing a lot of information that is taught in the classroom. Quite often, the students might also leave their seats as the lessons are going on or even interrupt the teacher.

Attachment Disorder

Attachment disorders may be defined as mental ailments that affect young people, thus, making it quite difficult for them to form emotional attachments. A major symptom of the attachment disorder is that the child may depict some unresponsive behavior – for instance, he/she may not react after he/she is touched (Zeanah and Gleason 2015, p.3). Besides, he/she may depict some hesitations while interacting with other people. As a result of the disease, the affected children usually experience various challenges in forming relationships, which denotes that they may end up spending a significant amount of their time alone while in schools. Even some of the children are born with the disease; it would be reasonable to note that one of its major causes is negligence by the parent, which minimizes the potential of the young ones to develop healthy relationships with other people (Shah 2015, p.1). Since they are incapable of establishing any relationships, the students may also be incapable of raising questions or seeking clarifications on areas they may fail to understand as the lesson goes on.

Attention Deficit Disorder

The attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a psychiatric sickness that makes the affected individuals exhibit behavioral problems key among them being challenges paying attention to instructions or completing the required tasks within the anticipated time. Students who suffer from the ADD may be disinterested in the classroom activities or appear bored during the lessons. In most cases, they misplace or lose their educational materials and may fail to turn in their assignments as required. Ultimately, they may end up having a dismal performance in their academics. Unlike is the case with students who suffer from ADHD, those who have ADD may sit quietly in class although they may not be paying attention to what the teacher would be saying.  

Theoretical Explanations of Children’s SEHM Difficulties

Child-Centered Theories

An example of the child-centered theorems on the cause of the SEHM difficulties among children is Erickson’s model on the psychosocial development. Erickson strived to illustrate how social relationships play an integral role in the development of a child. He noted that, at each developmental stage, children have to face a range of crisis and only the ones who are in a position to overcome such challenges effectively develop as anticipated (An and Cooney 2006, p.410). On the other hand, those who are not capable of resolving the crisis at any stage may end up struggling in future due to various issues such as suffering from psychiatric disorders (Malone, Liu, Vailliant, Rentz and Waldinger 2016, p.496). For instance, at the initial stage – the trust and mistrust phase – which takes place at the first year of the child’s life, the infant learns how to develop relationships with the assistance of the caregivers (Dunkel and Sefcek 2009, p.16). In case the caregiver – parents or house helps – responds to the child’s needs consistently and in a caring manner, then it learns how to trust the people around it. As noted earlier, one of the factors that make the child more prone to SEHM difficulties is negligence by the caretakers, which denotes that the infant will fail to trust the people around him/her in case he/she does not get sufficient care from the caregivers. As a result, the child will always be incapable of forming relationships with his/her classmates or teachers as he/she cannot trust them. Therefore, he/she will be incapable of paying attention while in class or seeking clarifications on areas he/she may not understand, thus, adversely affecting his/her academic performance. At the second stage of development, the shame and doubt vs. autonomy phase, the child starts to develop a sense of personal control (Chung 2018, p.378). It is worth noting that at this point, the child would be starting to gain some independence, hence, he/she would start performing some of the basic decisions on their own and make simple decisions as well. At such a point, supporting the young ones on how to make rational decisions enhances their development of the sense of autonomy. As a result, they would also be capable of seeking academic assistance from their peers and teachers after they start going to school, which would enable them to excel in their studies.  

The Family-Centered Theories

The parent x child theory of specialization is a favorable model of illustrating the family as a cause of SEMH difficulties among children. The theory dictates that whenever parents fail to offer adequate care to their young ones, then there is a high probability that the children would end up suffering from mental disorders (Sokolova 2003, p.1). According to this model, such effects are most common in cases where the parents might attempt to regulate the children’s emotional and psychological development by constraining or invalidating their feelings. The main rationale behind this case is the fact that psychological control tends to make the children feel that their feelings are unworthy, thus, making them to develop low self-esteem. However, in cases where the parents are more inclined on controlling the child’s behaviors, there is a high likelihood that the infant will be in a position to form relationships with other societal members as a result of having adequate support from his/her parents. As aforementioned, failure to develop an adequate attachment with the caregivers makes the children incapable of developing a healthy relationship with the other members of the society. In schools, the children would experience challenges while interacting with their peers or teachers, thus, leading to their dismal performance in academics.


Nations have enacted effective policies that are aimed at ensuring that all children have access to education opportunity irrespective of their differences. The need for such legislation was prompted by the need to ensure that children who suffer from disabilities are not denied a chance to learn. As illustrated above, examples of such regulations include the Salamanca Statement and Framework Action and the World Declaration on Education for All. Some of the strategies which can be used to promote the inclusion of the students who suffer from various disabilities in mainstream classes include the formulation of regulations that bar the discrimination of such students and training the teachers on how meet the educational desires of the learners with various special needs. Additionally, some of the children may exhibit social, emotional, and mental health (SEHM) challenges while learning, which limits their probability to excel in academics. Some of the most common SEHM difficulties include the attachment disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the attention deficit disorder. An illustration of the child-centered theory that could be used to illustrate the occurrence of the SEHM issues is Erickson’s model on the stages of psychosocial development. On the other hand, the parent x child model of socialization is a family-centered theorem that can also be used to demonstrate the causes of the SEHM difficulties.


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August 14, 2023



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